tax dollars at work: If Larry Scalise were a
court-appointed lawyer representing an indigent,
he'd be paid $60 an hour by the state. But he's
a "special prosecutor" looking into
that $25,000 campaign contribution Chet Culver
got from gambling interests in 2009. So he's
paid $80 an hour.
If Larry Scalise and his paralegals were representing
an indigent charged with an aggravated misdemeanor
— that's what the gambling charge is — the state
would pay them no more than a combined $1,200.
So far, the state has paid Coppola, McConville,
Coppola, Hockenberg & Scalise $87,610.46
for the campaign case, the keeper of the invoices
told Skinny last week.
If Larry Scalise were a regular prosecutor,
not a "special" prosecutor appointed
by Attorney General Tom Miller, he would have
to go to trial within 90 days of when charges
were brought. Charges in the gambling case were
filed Oct. 11, 2010. Trial now is set for Oct.
And Larry Scalise might be looking at further
delay. In May, he dropped charges against Brent
Stevens and Jonathan Swain of Peninsula Gaming,
saying he didn't have enough evidence to prove
they made a donation to Culver in someone else's
name. That prompted the other two defendants,
Davenport lawyer Curtis Beason and Fort Dodge
businessman Steve Daniel, to ask what, exactly,
they're now being charged with, since they originally
were accused of making that funneled contribution.
Last week, a Polk County magistrate said, in
effect, that that's a good question. He told
Scalise to provide more information to the remaining
Which, of course, Scalise will do.
At $80 an hour. ...
Scalise, who was Iowa attorney general from
1965 to 1967 and who now is 78 years old, is
seldom in a hurry. In 1995, he was appointed
deputy independent counsel in the federal government's
investigation of former Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Henry Cisneros. He spent seven years
looking into various allegations. That investigation
cost taxpayers more than $22 million. Cisneros
ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and
was fined $10,000. The case was finally closed
after 10 years. ...
Culver and money were back in the news the other
day. "Join us as we get the band back together
to retire campaign debt, renew old friendships
and launch Gov. Culver to his new role,"
said an invitation inviting friends old and
new to a $50-a-head event at Lucca in the East
Village. Culver's last filing with the Iowa
Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, which
was Jan.19 of this year, indicated he had debts
of $18,238 plus a $50,000 unpaid balance on
a $100,000 loan from Bill Knapp.
It's unclear why he's moving now to repay the
debt, but perhaps it's because of that debt
to Knapp. Culver has been nominated to serve
on the board of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage
Corporation — "Farmer Mac" — but he
hasn't yet been confirmed by the Senate. One
possible reason: he owes that money to Knapp,
who owns agricultural land, and that might be
considered a conflict for Culver. The Farmer
Mac board meets six times a year, and directors
get an annual retainer of $24,000 plus $1,200
a day (plus expenses) for each board meeting
and committee meeting plus $1,200 a day "for
certain other meetings and conferences with
borrowers, lenders or other groups." The
15-person board is chaired by Lowell Junkins,
the former majority leader of the Iowa Senate
who then was from Montrose but now operates
Lowell Junkins & Associates in Des Moines.
"You should ask around about the rift between
[Sen. Chuck] Grassley and [Republican player]
Bruce Rastetter," says an e-mail from a
guy who always knows what he's talking about.
"The Senator is fund-raising for his grandson
Pat. Rastetter is supporting Annette Sweeney
and will be fund-raising for her."
Legislative incumbents Pat Grassley and Sweeney
were thrown into the same House district after
the redistricting this year, and neither has
backed out. Rastetter has been a consistent
giver to two-term incumbent Sweeney and has
never supported three-term incumbent Pat Grassley,
state records show. Rastetter and Sweeney have
known each other since they were young. He gave
Sweeney $500 last September and another $500
when she ran two years earlier. Perhaps more
interesting: Barbara Grassley, the senator's
wife and Pat's grandmother, gave Sweeney $200
last year and gave her grandson $300 in September
of 2009. Chuck Grassley, who is worth somewhere
between $2 million and $6 million, has never
contributed anything to his grandson — or, for
that matter, to any other candidate for state
office in recent years. According to state records,
his contribution record is rather slim: $50
to Iowans for Tax Relief in 2007 and $14 to
Iowans for Tax Relief in 2004.
Rastetter gave the maximum $4,800 to Chuck Grassley
in the last Senate go-round, and in 2008 and
2009 he also threw in $58,500 to the National
Republican Senatorial Committee, another nod
toward the Iowa Senator.
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call had a piece
on Steve King Monday, telling how he is being
constantly wooed by presidential candidates.
He'll endorse someone after Labor Day, but until
then he's the popular guy at the dance. Still,
that worries some. " "He's got a more
competitive district now than he's ever had
before,' Gentry Collins, the former executive
director of the Iowa Republican Party and former
RNC political director, told Roll Call. "I
think he needs to be a little more careful about
his own political fortunes and maybe a little
less focused on presidential politics.'"
King's opponent, Christie Vilsack, so far is
out-hustling him in the district and has raised
far more money.
A correction: Skinny had the number of registered
voters in Iowa all screwed up last week. Here's
how a paragraph on the Ames Straw Poll should
"As of Aug. 1, there were 1,961,718 active
voters in the state of Iowa. Of those, 610,285
were Republicans. Of those — presumably — 16,892
'voted' in the Ames straw poll on Saturday.
Of those, 4,823 voted for Michele Bachmann.
And the 'voters' had to show $30 tickets, tickets
that presumably were paid for by the campaigns.
Bachmann won the straw poll by getting 28 percent
of the votes in Ames, 2.7 percent of the votes
of Iowa Republicans, and 0.8 percent of the
ballots of all registered voters in the state.
And she paid $30 a pop to get most of that 28
percent or 2.7 percent or 1.2 percent, whichever
figure you want to use. The poll tax is alive
and well in Iowa."
Next week: Who knows? CV