First, the news:
Jimmy Carter will be the Bucksbaum lecturer
at Drake on Sept. 13, thanks in part to 1970
Drake alum Brent Slay. Slay heads a Michigan
company that makes “employee-recognition products,”
and is, according to Drake, a friend of President
Carter. It’s not known how much Drake is paying
Carter, but the former President usually gets
at least $100,000 for a speech.
Don Tripp apparently is looking to leave his
job as head of the Des Moines Parks and Recreation
operation, and by the time this appears he may
have announced his plan to take a job in Colorado.
Or maybe not. If the popular Tripp leaves, that
should please council member and former city
forester Skip Moore, who is regularly at odds
with the parks boss. Most everyone else seems
to like Tripp a lot. ...
Now, the non-news:
Christie Vilsack is holding a fundraiser May
12 “to honor the women who paved the way” for
Iowans finally to elect (Vilsack hopes) a woman
to Congress. Those being honored include past
Congressional candidates Ruth Hollingshead,
the first Iowa woman to run for Congress and,
of course, the first to lose. The Albia postmaster
lost to Karl LeCompte, a Republican who served
20 years in the U.S. House. Also being honored:
Zoe Nabers, the second woman to run, who lost
decisively to Tom Martin in eastern Iowa in
1940; two-time loser Lynn Cutler, once of Waterloo
and now of Chicago; two time loser Elaine Baxter
of Burlington; Jean Lloyd Jones, the first Iowa
woman to run for the U.S. Senate, where she
got just 27.2 percent of the vote in losing
to Chuck Grassley in 1992; Sheila McGuire Riggs,
who lost to Tom Latham in 1994; Connie McBurney,
who lost to Greg Ganske in 1996, Donna Smith,
who lost a 2000 election to Jim Nussle; Ann
Hutchinson, who lost in 2002 to Nussle; Julie
Thomas, who lost in 2002 to Jim Leach; Joyce
Schulte, who twice lost decisively (2004 and
2006) to Steve King; Becky Greenwald, who got
beat up in 2008 by Latham, and Roxanne Conlin,
who lost a Senate bid to Grassley in 2010.
But weren’t there other women who ran for Congress?
Well, yes. There was Sonja Egenes, who ran against
Neal Smith in 1962, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks,
who lost in 2008 and again in 2010 to Dave Loebsack.
And maybe more. Why aren’t they being honored?
Well, they’re Republicans. No need to honor
Meantime, Vilsack is tapping the purses of lots
of central Iowa women, persons who aren’t always
on the lists of political givers. Des Moines
isn’t in Vilsack’s district, but significant
Des Moines-area donors in her bid to oust Steve
King include Susan Knapp ($5,000) and these
$2,500 donors: Kathleen Zimpleman, Patty Cownie
(whose son, legislator Pete Cownie has given
$750 to King), Andrea Abel, Barbara Crowley,
Charlotte Hubbell, Helen Hubbell, Cyril Mandlebaum,
Suzanne Engman, Marjorie Foster, Toni Urban,
Jodi Urich, Linda Crawford and Pam Bookey, according
to records at the Federal Election Commission
in Washington. Chipping in $1,000 are Michele
Griswell, Connie Wimer, Emily Weitz, Rusty Hubbell
and Georgia Helmick. Other women ponying up
various amounts include Sue Brenton, Lois Beh,
Susan Judkins Josten, Andy McGuire, Julia Gentleman,
Bonnie Campbell, Kathie Eckhouse, Rose Mary
Pratt, Marsha Wiggins, Marcia Nichols, Mary
Nelson and a clutch of Garsts.
The district is heavily Republican — the GOP
has 175,895 registered voters and the Democrats
129,442, with 174,106 independents — but Ames
is an island of Democrats, and Vilsack has tapped
those folks. She has raised around $40,000 from
Ames voters, compared to just $15,825 by King.
And $10,000 of King’s money came from Roger
and Connie Underwood. Vilsack moved to Ames
from Des Moines to take on King, and one of
her $2,500 contributors was Secretary of Agriculture
and former governor Tom Vilsack. He wrote a
check to his wife’s campaign on March 20, listing
Ames as his address. A year earlier, listing
a Washington, D.C. address, he gave another
$2,500. (Turnabout is fair play. She gave $2,100
to his gubernatorial campaign in 2006.)
All told, as of March 31 Vilsack had raised
$1,550,556, including $1,285,651 from individuals
and $260,716 from political action committees.
King had raised $1,264,118, including $1,006,494
from individuals and $253,500 from PACs. Vilsack
had $905,427 cash on hand and King had $809,854.
Gov. Terry Branstad, unlike many politicians
in that he regularly gives generously to those
running for office, gave King $2,500 on March
31 this year, the final day of the first-quarter
reporting period. That’s the most he has ever
given to one federal candidate in an election
cycle. But he did more than that for Miller-Meeks.
Besides giving her $250 for her unsuccessful
2008 Congressional bid, he hired her after becoming
governor and put her in charge of the state’s
Department of Public Health.
There’s no indication that Steve King has ever
given a nickel to any federal candidate. But,
oddly, Stephen King, the author, gave $10,000
to the Iowa Democratic Party in 2004. He lives
in Maine. ...
Even in death, Chuck Colson couldn’t escape
Bob Pratt. In 2006, Federal Judge Pratt of Iowa’s
Southern District ruled that an affiliate of
Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries was “pervasively
sectarian” and crossed the line between separation
of church and state, using the state’s money
to finance a religious effort. Pratt ruled that
it had to return about $1.5 million to the state.
Pratt was upheld on appeal, though the court
said the ministries needn’t repay the state.
Colson, who had been an aide to President Richard
Nixon and then went to jail for obstructing
justice in the Watergate investigation while
in his post, died a couple of weeks ago. His
long obituary in The New York Times talked about
his becoming a born-again Christian in prison
and then establishing his fellowship ministries.
Then, near the end, the obituary notes that
“a federal judge” ruled the program unconstitutional
because it “gave special privileges to inmates
who embraced evangelical Christianity.”
That federal judge was Pratt, a strong advocate
of the First Amendment who has always taken
pride — if judges take pride — in the ruling.
In 2011, Federal Judge Mark Bennett of Sioux
City imposed a 48-month sentence and an $829,715.85
fine on Steven Keith VandeBrake in a price-fixing,
bid-rigging antitrust case in the concrete business.
The Justice Department was willing to settle
for a 19-month sentence and a $100,000 fine.
Bennett’s decision “tied the record for the
longest jail sentence ever imposed on a defendant
solely convicted of violating the antitrust
laws,” according to the Department of Justice.
The other case was a far larger case. VandeBrake’s
sentence was much greater than the guidelines
called for, but Bennett explained it by saying
he didn’t like the guidelines and, besides,
VandeBrake was a rich guy who showed no remorse.
And the Justice Department’s lawyer didn’t know
as much about sentencing as he, Bennett, did,
the judge said. VandeBrake appealed.
Last week, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld Bennett on a 2-to-1 vote, but the most
interesting ruling was the one-paragraph concurring
opinion by Chief Judge William Riley. It reads,
in its entirety: “I concur in the general reasoning
and conclusion of Judge Bye’s opinion. I write
separately to disassociate myself from the district
court’s comments about economic success and
status, race, heritage, and religion. I consider
those comments inappropriate and not a proper
reason for supporting any sentence.”
Steve Colloton has been on the 8th Circuit Court
of Appeals since 2003, not since 1903, as Skinny
reported in the print edition last week. The
100-year mistake is well within the margin of
error for the column. CV