A Republican congressman and his party’s nominee for Iowa Secretary of State are accusing Democrats of a secret plan to rig the upcoming election. But rather than take this warning of impending election fraud to the police, they took it to their fundraising email list.
Democrats and Republicans have paid close attention to Secretary of State campaigns, especially in swing states, ever since the disputed presidential election of 2000. After all, Secretaries of State from Katherine Harris in Florida 2000 to Ken Blackwell in 2004 showed just how influential the office can be in close races.
That’s why Republicans in Iowa are pulling out all the stops to keep control of the Secretary of State seat, especially in advance of the 2016 presidential election.
In an email sent on July 28th on behalf of Republican Secretary of State nominee Paul Pate’s campaign, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) accused Democrats of rigging Minnesota’s 2008 Senate election on behalf of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), using their control of the Secretary of State office. The result was razor-thin, with Franken ultimately topping then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) by just 312 votes. Though King didn’t make a specific accusation, Politifact has rated similar claims of fraud as “false.”
“This wasn’t a fair recount,” King wrote Pate’s supporters. “This was a democrat plan put into action two years in advance of Coleman’s re-election campaign.”
However, rather than just re-litigating a close election in the past, King used the episode to warn about Democrats’ supposed intentions for Iowa’s upcoming elections. “There is an important U.S. Senate race in Iowa this year, and Senator Grassley will be up for re-election two years from now,” King wrote. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what they are up to.”
Read an excerpt of the email here:
Ironically, the most pernicious developments in election law over the past few election cycles haven’t been organized election fraud like King describes, but Republican-led efforts to suppress votes. These measures have ranged from requiring photo identification to vote to rolling back state laws that permit voter registration on Election Day. While supporters of these voting restrictions often argue they are necessary to prevent voter fraud — a virtually nonexistent crime — the laws tend to make it harder for minorities, seniors, students, and poor people to vote. After the 2012 election, Republican officials in Florida admitted that their slew of election law changes were intended to target Democrats.
Pate said he supports bringing voter ID to Iowa, a move that could disenfranchise thousands of Iowa voters, but said he hopes it will be a bipartisan initiative. Implementing voter ID has long been a goal of Pate’s; in 2010 he endorsed (and chaired) current Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s (R) campaign by noting that “He will stop voter fraud by instituting a photo ID, reforming same-day registration, and creating a crime stoppers hotline for voter fraud in Iowa.”
Nationwide, a conservative PAC was recently formed to boost conservative Secretary of State candidates. The organization, SOS for SoS, is preparing to spend $10 million in nine states this year, including in Iowa. A liberal PAC, SoS for Democracy, is looking to provide a counterweight this year.
If a Republican who aspires to national office can’t understand plain English, should they be allowed to even run, much less be elected? That’s the question I asked when I heard about Iowa’s Senate candidate Joni Ernst calling the UCSB shootings an “unfortunate accident.”
There’s nothing accidental about a rage-filled asshole with a few semi-automatic weapons picking off women standing on a sidewalk. Nothing accidental about that at all. It’s a wanton act of premeditated murder, enabled by the NRA and gun nuts across this nation. Ernst whitewashed it to pander to her bloodthirsty keepers, and now she needs to own it and be disqualified from ever holding national office.
During the debate, a viewer questioned whether she would change her ad which shows Ernst on a firing range promising to unload on Obamacare. TPM:
The moderator then asked Ernst if she would change the ad or its timing in light of the UCSB shooting.
"I would not — no. This unfortunate accident happened after the ad, but it does highlight that I want to get rid of, repeal, and replace Bruce Braley’s Obamacare," Ernst replied, referring to a Democratic Senate candidate. "And it also shows that I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. That is a fundamental right."
The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.”
Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, opened the forum by declaring, “At The Family Leader, we believe God has three institutions: It would be the church, the family, and government.”
He warned that policies such as legal abortion and marriage equality would cause God to cease blessing the country. “As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” he said.
“You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country,” he concluded.
Several of the candidates echoed this theme during the forum. When moderator Erick Erickson, the right-wing pundit, asked the candidates what criteria they would look for in confirming federal judges, three out of four said they would demand faith in God or adherence to “natural law.”
Sam Clovis, a college professor and retired Air Force colonel, answered that he has “a very firm litmus test” on judges: “Can that judge…explain to me natural law and natural rights?”
Joni Ernst, who is currently a state senator, agreed, adding that federal judges should understand that the Constitution and all of our laws “did come from God” and that senators should “make sure that any decisions that they have made in the past are decisions that fit within that criteria.”
Former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker argued that neither Clovis’ nor Ernst’s answer had gone “far enough.” He said that he would demand that federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” and “have a biblical view of justice.”
“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” he said. “And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”
This all must have been very pleasing to Vander Plaats, who in 2010 orchestrated the ousting of Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and who has repeatedly insisted that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it "goes against" the Bible and the “law of nature.”
H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW
Conservative media figures that embody messages of misogyny and hate will take center stage at a GOP candidate forum in Iowa, despite the party’s own acknowledgment that future electoral victories hinge upon the development of a more tolerant platform.
After Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee drafted a series of recommendations on how to evolve and grow the party into a force that can win consistently in the 21st century. To a large extent, the plan recommended reaching out to women and minorities, after Democrats won both groups by healthy margins that year. The RNC report recommended ”developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” It went on to suggest that the party needs “to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”
But in a move that seems in total opposition to those recommendations, the Iowa Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have chosen to partner with Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, radio host Steve Deace, and The Family Leader, an anti-gay organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats, to conduct a forum for the candidates on April 25.
Despite his role as “moderator” for the event, Erickson’s far-right views on women and minorities are anything but moderate. Erickson has argued that businesses that serve gay couples are “aiding and abetting” sin, that proposed anti-discrimination laws are part of a war on Christians waged by “evil” gay rights activists, and that marriage equality is akin to incest. According to the pundit, gay people are definitely “on the road to hell.”
In fact, Erickson is scheduled to appear at an event for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on the night before the candidate forum. The ADF, whose work has been touted by Erickson, is an extreme anti-gay organization working to criminalize homosexuality. The event is billed as “An Evening with Erick Erickson,” making him a de facto spokesman for a group whose stances are so extreme even some of Erickson’s peers at Fox News have distanced themselves from them.
Erickson’s relationship with women’s issues is just as offensive — he is particularly hostile to the idea that women should help support a family financially. Erickson stated on his radio show in 2013 that “some women believe they can have it all, and that’s the crux of the problem,” and told Fox host Lou Dobbs that the recent increase in the number of female breadwinners is “concerning and troubling.” He elaborated on this point, saying, “When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role.”
But it’s not just Erickson. The Republican candidate forum will also feature a post-forum focus group moderated by radio host and Washington Times columnist Steve Deace.
Deace maintains strong anti-gay and anti-immigrant views. Most recently, he penned a column suggesting that President Obama and the media were using the story of Michael Sam, an openly gay NFL prospect from the University of Missouri, as an excuse to distract attention away from the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He has also compared gay marriage to bank robbery and strongly opposes proposals like the DREAM Act that would aid longtime immigrant children in obtaining a college education.
And the forum itself is presented by The Family Leader, whose president Bob Vander Plaats has called gay people a “public health risk,” likened being gay to adultery and polygamy, and is a vocal supporter of the fringe birther movement.
If right-wing hate mongers like Erickson and Deace continue to be chosen to represent the party, GOP rebranding efforts are likely doomed.
h/t: Brian Powell at MMFA
Is Senate candidate Sam Clovis asshole of the day for saying if Obama were white, he’d have been impeached by now?
"I would say there are people in the House of Representatives right now that would very much like to take the opportunity to start the process," Clovis said of impeaching Obama. "And I think the reason that they’re not is because they’re concerned about the media."
"They’re concerned about the media in the context of how we would cover it because he’s a black president?" the Herald asked.
"Yes," Clovis responded.
There’s no grounds for impeaching Obama either, but why should that matter. The reason Obama hasn’t been impeached is because the House GOP is so worried about looking like racists. Mmhmm.
Photo source: http://iowans4samclovis.com/about-sam/
#IASen: Bruce Braley sorry for comments about Grassley
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley is apologizing to Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley for comments recorded during a fundraiser in Texas in which the Democrat inferred Iowa’s senior senator was unfit to be Judiciary Committee Chairman.
The Democratic frontrunner for governor in Iowa has proposed increasing the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current minimum of $7.25, arguing that too many Iowans work multiple jobs just to get by.
“A low minimum wage makes those choices predisposed,” Jack Hatch, a state senator, said on Monday. “Families make bad choices because they don’t have enough income.” The state senator noted that Iowa has the ninth highest percentage “of people working multiple jobs,” a burden that prevents families from “interacting with one another” and building relationships within their communities. Congressional Democrats, including outgoing Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and President Obamabackthe increase.
#IA03: Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) won’t seek reelection
Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) announced Tuesday that he won’t seek reelection in 2014, becoming the third member of the House in one day to announce his retirement.
"It is never a perfect time or a right time to step aside," Latham wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "But for me, this is the time. I want to share with you my decision that I will not be a candidate for any office in November of 2014."Read full article »
Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) won’t seek reelection
A majority of states have retention votes. Until recently, these votes have gotten little to no attention by the press let alone discussion around the kitchen table. Then, in 2010, one powerful Christian political group in Iowa made targeting so-called “activist” judges part of its mission.
The Family Leader (TFL) headed by Bob Vander Plaats, whose name has recently been floated as a possible contenderfor the Republican nomination for Senate, launched an aggressive and ultimately successful campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court Justices. After these three judges ruled in favor of marriage equality, making Iowa one of the first states to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state, Vander Plaats and TFL mustered the anti-gay marriage troops.
Money poured in from The National Organization for Marriage, The Alliance Defense Fund, The Family Research Council and the American Family Association. Well north of $500,000 was dumped into Iowafor the cause. The highlight of the campaign was a 20-stop bus tour coordinated by TFL that drew perennial right-wing religious favorites like Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Tony Perkins and Rick Santorum. Each stop bashed gay marriage, warning Iowans that it was a slippery slope toward incest, polygamy and man-on-dog love.
It worked. Not only did the judges lose their jobs, Vander Plaats and TFL drove their right-wing base and single-issue voters to the polls. This momentum helped TFL endorsed presidential candidate Rick Santorum to narrowly (and belatedly) win the Iowa caucus.
Now, Vander Plaats and The Family Leader are at it again. This time the target is Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano. Her crime? Granting an injunction against a law that would end telemed abortion in Iowa.
Telemed services allow women, typically in rural areas away from any clinic, access to abortion care services they would otherwise not have. A doctor “meets” a woman via webcam then prescribes medication to induce a chemical abortion. Then, under the in-person supervision of a trained medical professional the woman takes the pill.
The Family Leader and Vander Plaats have aggressively jumped in this fight as well. Just days after Romano’s Nov. 5 ruling, a post went up on TFL’s website. Under the title “Remember the Romano” TFL supposes Judge Romano didn’t “learn a lesson” from the Supreme Court vote stating “The FAMiLY LEADER [sic] encourages Iowans to remember Judge Karen Romano’s activism when she is up for retention in November 2016.”
The punitive model created by The Family Leader targeting justices can be replicated in other states. As model legislation (like “fetal pain” bills or 20 week abortion bans) is floated in one state to assess its feasibility in another, so is judicial retention. With hot-button issues like gay marriage and abortion increasingly make their way to state courts Americans can expect more and more “bus tours” by Christian-political groups designed to drive the base to the polls and bring big money to their causes.
Iowa Parents Defend Kids' Bullying Of Autistic Student, Saying He Brought It On Himself | ThinkProgress
The stigma and ignorance surrounding mental disabilities may have led the parents of teens who bullied a classmate with autism to blame the victim.
On Monday, WHO-TV reported that students at an Iowa high school had posted a video onlinemocking the involuntary movements of classmate Levi Null, a 13-year old with Asperger’s syndrome. “People tell me to run into things and I don’t really like it,” said Null, who also has ADHD. “And I tell them that I don’t want to and they just laugh at me, whenever I do it.”
On Thursday, it was revealed that the report had triggered an outpouring of support — for the accused bullies.
Some of those defending the teens who posted the video have turned to shaming the autistic victim. Levi Weatherly, a parent of one of the accused teens insisted his child was not wholly in the wrong. “Three-fourths of this stuff he brings on himself,” he said, “and probably a fourth of it is bullying that shouldn’t be going on.” One implied that he was asking for it: “This kid has done things to get people mad that I think he could probably control.”
But this sentiment betrays a basic ignorance of autism. According to advocacy group Autism Speaks, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are “characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.” Like Levi Null’s Asperger’s syndrome, his repetitive movements and difficulties socializing are not voluntary, and he cannot turn them off at will.
The students and parents at Melcher-Dallas High School are not alone in their misunderstanding of mental disabilities. In schools, students viewed negatively because of mental disorders are often easy targets for bullying and unfair treatment at the hands of teachers. According to a report by the Interactive Autism Network, 63 percent of children with ASD aged 6 to 15 have experienced bullying, with kids like Levi who also have ADHD more likely to be victimized. Forty percent of ASD children have been punished by school teachers and administrators after suffering a meltdown or outburst in response to bullying.
Last year, the Huffington Post interviewed Stuart Chalfetz, a father who discovered that public school instructors were verbally abusing his autistic son. Chalfetz said his son was treated as if he were “subhuman.”
Anti-Choice Activist Threatening Abortion Providers Has Link to Personhood USA Leader | Right Wing Watch
As a GOP state senate nominee in 2010, Leach suggested that HIV/AIDS was divine punishment for homosexuality. He was eventually defeated by Democratic incumbent Matt McCoy, but his candidacy did win the support of one leading anti-choice activist: Personhood USA board member Chet Gallagher.
Top Iowa Elections Official: Pass Voter ID So The GOP Can Kill Abortion Rights And Marriage Equality
At a social conservative conference this week, Iowa’s Secretary of State argued that Republicans need to pass voter ID in order to advance their top policy goals, including banning abortion and same-sex marriage.
Matt Schultz (R), elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, spoke at length about his support for implementing voter ID in a speech before the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition on Monday. In the process he accused the other side of cheating in order to win elections, but provided no evidence to back up this claim.
SCHULTZ: There are a whole lot of issues that we care about, abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about. But you have to start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well, because if you don’t have that, you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat! They’ll cheat. And we need to make sure we stop them. So what do I need you to do? I need you start telling your friends and neighbors that you love voter ID. You love voter ID.
There’s a reason why Schultz couldn’t provide any evidence that people are using voter fraud at the polls to rig elections: none exists. In-person voter fraud is extraordinarily rare; a study in nearby Wisconsin found a fraud rate of 0.0002 percent, far less common than even being struck by lightning. Still, a dearth of actual voter fraud hasn’t stopped conservatives from using it as a phantom menace to gin up support for voter ID.
Schultz isn’t the only Republican official pushing voter ID as a means for enacting the Party’s policy goals. Indeed, because approximately 1 in 10 Americans — particularly young voters and minorities, groups who tend to vote Democratic — lack photo ID, a strict voter ID requirement would help Republicans win more elections.
But under the laws of our land, you got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.
Proclaiming he’s “ready to go,” U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is telling supporters today that he’s forming a campaign committee to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2014 by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.
Braley is sending the news in an email today, saying it’s a “big responsibility” to try to fill Harkin’s shoes.
“But if you are willing to help me, I’m ready to go,” he said in the email, which was obtained by the Quad-City Times.
The announcement comes about two weeks after Harkin shocked Iowans by announcing he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014. Since then, Braley, who has long been rumored to be interested in the Senate, has been exploring a potential bid.
In the email, Braley said he would kick off a series of conversations with a Facebook chat in the next few weeks. Link said the conversations would extend for several months.
While Braley is considered by many to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, it’s possible others could run in a primary. If that happens, Link made it clear Braley will be ready for any challenge.
“We’re going to be in the best position when the filing deadline hits,” he said.
Braley has been a proficient fundraiser since kicking off his first bid for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2005. He’s won four races in eastern Iowa since then, with only one, in 2010, a close call.
Now, he faces the challenge of introducing himself to other parts of the state, including a heavily Republican western Iowa.
Link said Braley has been encouraged in particular by two events in the days since Harkin made his announcement: His meeting with Statehouse Democrats in Des Moines and a big labor union event over the weekend in Dubuque, where he appeared with Harkin.
Harkin did not endorse Braley — and he has said that he wouldn’t get involved in a primary — but he generously praised the Waterloo Democrat.
Braley also has met with the political arm of the Senate Democrats.
On the Republican side, Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King have both sent signals they could run.