Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Civic Skinny

Klinefeldt for Congress? Byers’ and Meyer’s salaries.


Nick Klinefeldt for Congress? The U.S. Attorney is the guy that the Democratic Party in Washington wants to run against first-term Republican Congressman David Young. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee thinks Klinefeldt could win — he’s young and smart and solid and has no known political baggage — and the seat is one of a score or so it is targeting for 2016.

Other than the occasional bad guy he has sent off to the penitentiary in the past four years, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like the 40-year-old U.S. Attorney. He’s well-connected politically and well-credentialed as an Iowan. He worked on the Obama campaign in Iowa in 2008, and former Sen. Tom Harkin had proposed that Klinefeldt be appointed to the federal bench, though the suggestion came too late for White House action. Klinefeldt was born in Des Moines, graduated from the University of Iowa and its law school, worked in Iowa City and Des Moines and clerked for Federal Judge Robert Pratt.

The Cook Political Report views the Third District as “leaning Republican,” but Democrats think the one-term incumbent is beatable. As of March 2, there were 164,642 active registered Republican voters in the 16-county district, 162,163 independents and 153,230 Democrats. If Young is re-elected, it’s probably his district for several terms, which means that both parties will pour money into the 2016 election. It probably will cost each candidate $4 million.

Several Democrats are said to be looking at running, including Staci Appel, who lost to Young; State Sen. Matt McCoy, who could run without giving up his senate seat; and Bill Brauch, an assistant attorney general and member of the state central committee. Some people are mentioning Chet Culver’s name, but Chet Culver doesn’t seem to be one of those people.

Friends say Klinefeldt is at least listening to the DCCC. …


Lawyers for all parties in the Chris Godfrey defamation and discrimination and extortion lawsuit against Gov. Terry Branstad and others in his administration agreed to release thousands of pages of deposition transcripts last week — after Cityview hired a lawyer who drew up papers to ask a judge to order the release.

For the most part, the depositions are tedious and dull and deal with the inner workings of the Workers Compensation Office, which Godfrey used to run, and occasionally with homosexuality and gays in government, since Godfrey alleges he was discriminated against because he is homosexual. [Godfrey was not a Branstad appointee. He was appointed first by Gov. Tom Vilsack then by Gov. Chet Culver. The job carries a fixed term that didn’t expire when Branstad took office.]

Godfrey was regularly referred to — here and elsewhere — as “the only openly gay member of Branstad’s administration.” But Brenna Findley, until recently the governor’s lawyer, testified there is another openly gay person. From the transcript:

Conlin: “…but I also want to know if there is anyone that you can identify as a gubernatorial appointee who is gay.”

Findley: “Yes.”

Conlin: “Okay. Do that.”

Findley: “Okay. The governor has appointed [redacted] to be [redacted]. It’s a very important part of our team. I work closely with [redacted] as does the governor. [Two more lines redacted.].”

The redactions — which are odd if the person is indeed openly gay — were done by the Attorney General’s office. On Friday, Cityview asked why, and asked if they would have deleted the name if the question had been whether Findley could identify any gubernatorial worker who was Catholic or black. So far, no response.

In fact, in another court document that is part of the public record, Branstad says: “I appointed a member of my current staff, Doug Hoelscher, who is gay, and I consider him a key member of my staff, and we have worked extremely well together.” [Hoelscher is director of the Iowa office of state-federal relations in Washington.]

Although Findley and others apparently know that Mr. or Ms. Redacted is gay, none say they knew Godfrey was gay until after the Governor asked him to quit and, failing at that, cut Godfrey’s salary.

Branstad: “I had no idea that he was gay. At the time I made the decision to lower Mr. Godfrey’s salary, I did not know he was gay.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds: “At no time prior to Mr. Godfrey making these claims do I recall anyone advising me that he was gay.”

Former Chief of Staff Jeff Boeyink: “At the time of the July 5, 2011 meeting where the Governor made his decision regarding Mr. Godfrey’s performance and salary adjustment, I didn’t know that Christopher Godfrey was gay.”

Former head of Iowa Workforce Development Teresa Wahlert: “The first time I heard that he was gay was through an article in Cityview, the Civic Skinny column….”

Former Branstad counsel Findley: “I was doing research on the Internet so as to confirm Commissioner Godfrey’s term beginning and end dates. That search…pulled up a blog post that said that he was gay. I did not know whether it was true.” …

About nine months ago, you’ll remember — actually, you probably don’t remember — Cityview asked the Greater Des Moines Partnership what the top folks there earned in 2013. “We value transparency,” a spokeswoman replied, but….And she didn’t answer the question.

Late last year, the group filed its 2013 tax return, and the salaries now are available. Bear in mind, the Partnership people have probably received two raises since, but here are the only public figures:

In 2013, chief executive Jay Byers had “reportable compensation” of $257,320 plus “other compensation from the organization and related organizations” of $31,633. Gene Meyer, the president, had pay of $184,320 plus $20,804. Dave Maahs, an executive vice president, earned $214,242 plus $24,200. Marty Bontrager, another executive vice president, earned $162,919 plus $17,619, and Mike Colwell, executive director of entrepreneurial initiatives, earned $162,275 and got another $21,060.

The Partnership had a surplus of $1,520,484 in 2013 — revenue of $6,644,590 and expenses of $5,124,106. But the Partnership used that surplus and more — about $1,650,000 — to support the Downtown Community Alliance, an affiliate. The Community Alliance, which files a separate tax return, ran a deficit of $971,355 in 2013; it paid its then chief executive, Glenn Lyons, around $190,000 in salary and retirement benefits; Lyons has since left, and his duties have been given to Gene Meyer.

More than half of the Partnership expenses went to salaries, at $2,979,637. About 85 percent of the revenue came from dues, with most of the remainder coming from programs the Partnership put on. The group spent $222,602 on travel and $675,505 on conferences, conventions and meetings.

Some comparisons: In 2013, the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance paid its president, Dee Baird, $220,399 in salary and $21,961 in other compensation. The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce paid CEO David Brown nearly $500,000 in salary and other compensation.

Of course, you have to pay people more to live in Omaha. CV

Excerpt: Making a point

From the closing argument by Federal prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein in the trial of abusive cop Colin Boone:

“Well, the defense called in here an expert, an $11,000 expert who chose to ignore every one of those Tuesday morning witnesses and come up with his own version….For $11,000 he came in here….And for the $11,000 he told you that….But I ask you to think about what the $11,000 defense expert told you….The defendant’s $11,000 expert also told you that….Now, speaking of the defense expert who came in here for $11,000….” CV


Excerpt: Making a point

From the 441-page deposition of Gov. Terry Branstad by lawyer Roxanne Conlin:

Branstad: “….And I’m always looking to ways that we can make Iowa more attractive. One of my priorities has been to grow insurance and financial services jobs, and I —”

Conlin: “Governor, stop. I only have five minutes left on this tape, and I want to finish, if we possibly can, the meeting. I really do not want to hear any more campaign speeches.”


George LaMarca (lawyer for Branstad) to Conlin: “Excuse me. I would like you just to ask questions and follow the rules. We don’t need your commentary. You’re not under oath here.”

Conlin ran for governor in 1982 and lost to Branstad. CV

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