Meltdown! House cleared during public hearing; ITR president calls speaker a “Nazi”

A crowd of perhaps 600 Iowans was ordered out of the Iowa House tonight. It happened during a public hearing on a tax bill Democrats are advancing.  The crowd was booted for failing to abide by the rules of the House which prohibit "demonstrations of any type from the gallery."  (Those words in quotation in the previous sentence are posted on a sign located at the door that leads to the seating areas which overlook the House floor.)  Many in the crowd booed and hissed at those who did not share their opinion.  They applauded and cheered those who agreed with their point of view.

Iowans for Tax Relief president Ed Failor, Junior, seemed to get the largest burst of applause and cheers from the crowd. Later, Failor accused House Speaker Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque) — the leader who ordered the crowd out – of being "a Nazi." (Read the full quote below.)  Murphy ordered Failor escorted from the room. More developments on this breaking story as soon as possible. 

UPDATE: I ran up to the House balcony when I continued to hear folks "demonstrating" during the public hearing (I admit I expected some sort of eruption.) Just before Murphy announced he was clearing the chamber, a few people in the crowd in front of me were clapping and yelling.  Others were shushing them.  "Be quiet," one older woman said to a man sitting beside her. 

The crowd erupted in boos and jeers when Murphy ordered them out.  "Welcome to the Soviet Union," Jim Draude of Pleasant Hill said on his way out of the House chamber.  "…They want to hear what they want to hear.  If they have someone that disagrees with them, they're looking for a reason to get rid of them."

Another woman nearby was urging folks to stay: "They want to do a sit in.  Do you want to go to jail tonight?"

A man seemed to sum up the thoughts of those who were politely filing out:  "No, I've got to go to work tomorrow,"

At this point, I ran downstairs to see and hear what was happening on the House floor.  Ed Failor, Junior, president of Iowans for Tax Relief, came over to the House press bench to express his outrage. "The controlling party has lost touch with the taxpayers," Failor began.  "…Pat Murphy has acted like a jack-booted Nazi."

Murphy approached the group. "This has been inappropriate tonight," Murphy said.  An animated Failor continued to speak, punching his index finger onto the wood border of the House press bench to emphasize his rhetorical points.  Murphy asked House doorkeepers to escort Failor from the floor.

"It goes to a totalitarian government.  I'm going," Failor said as he was led away, adding a few moments later, "Don't touch me.

"Why am I going?" Failor asked, continuing to speak but his voice trails away on my recording.

I will be back, quickly, with Murphy's comments.

UPDATE II:  Murphy says the public hearing's chairman asked the crowd "at least three times" not to applaud, cheer, boo, or jeer.

"The bottom line is the House has very clear rules," Murphy just told reporters.  "There is no demonstrations.  The idea behind the public hearing is to give public input and give people the ability to speak for and against the bill. This is not an athletic event where you cheer for the home team and you jeer and boo against people that you don't agree with. If you want to do that, you do rallies outside the building.  You don't do that inside the building and it was inappropriate.  Quite frankly, I should have acted sooner and it was my mistake."

UPDATE III:  Listen to the meltdown (mp3 runs under 2 min).  The recording was made as I stood in the House balcony, amidst the crowd.

UPDATE IV:  After a 15 minute interlude — Murphy called it an "interruption" — the public hearing resumed and at 9:47 p.m. it is just winding down.  (When Murphy cleared the chamber, he said people who had signed up to speak and those who were guests of legislators would be allowed to stay in the House.)  At 9:49 p.m. the last speaker finished and the House sound system was shut down.

UPDATE V:  Listen to the verbal confrontation between Failor and Murphy (mp3 runs just over a minute).  To be clear, the man who is saying, 'Come on," to Failor at the end is NOT Murphy. It is the House doorkeeper who was asked to escort Failor from the room.

UPDATE VI:  Matt Strawn, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, was on the House floor tonight (I'm told by two different sources that RPI ordered "robo calls" to drive up attendance tonight).  Strawn also issued a statement via email, which you can read below.

This evening, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn released the following statement following the ordered shutdown of a public hearing of the Iowa House on House File 807

Des Moines, IA – In an unprecedented display of political arrogance, Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy tonight ordered State Troopers to remove hundreds of Iowa citizens from the Iowa House Chamber during a public hearing on proposed legislation to raise income taxes on over 450,000 Iowans. 
Matt Strawn, Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said: “Never have I seen such a gross display of arrogance and disdain for Iowa taxpayers.  The Iowa House is supposed to serve as the people’s house, the house where great ideas are debated and discussed.  But tonight, House Speaker Murphy made it clear the Iowa House is his house as he sent hundreds of Iowans packing.
“What Speaker Murphy heard tonight was the truth from Iowa taxpayers, and he didn’t like it. Citizens across Iowa are outraged about a state government that wants more and more of their hard-earned money.”
“These Iowans came to the State Capitol to exercise their rights and express their opinions on this ill-conceived, job-killing legislation.   Rather than embrace this discussion, Speaker Murphy shut it down and sent the people home.
“Shame on you, Pat Murphy.  And shame on majority Democrats for attempting to shove this horrible legislation down our throats.  The day you tried to silence Iowans will never be forgotten,” concluded Strawn.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Methinks Speaker Murphy just poured gasoline on the fire.

  2. I was one of those people in the crowd that was removed tonight we did not interrupt any speaker in middle of speech there was boos and cheers at end of good and bad points. I yelled as i was leaving this is taxation without representation as they are not representing us Iowans by no means they are on their own agendas.

  3. Where was Wayne Ford on this one? Mr. “This is the people’s house.”
    And, don’t get it wrong Mr. Failor. Speaker Murphy isn’t acting like a Nazi, he is a Nazi.
    People need to wake up! It doesn’t matter who you vote for, neither side has your best interest in mind. All a person is doing by even going to the polls is putting their “rubber stamp” on politics as usual.

  4. This article is an exaggeration of what actually happened. The people in my section were basically quiet after the first reprimand. A few clapped but it is certainly not correct to imply that everyone was out of hand. I was very disappointed to be escorted out after I had made a 100 mile round trip to be there and hear what they had to say. We have been sold out to special interest groups and it is time that “we the people” took our government back. I would encourage more people to show up at the capitol next time.

  5. “Curtis” writes that “he is a Nazi.” Shame on you Learfield for allowing hate speech on your Kay’s blog!

  6. Steve Mays says

    “Shame on you Learfield for allowing hate speech on your Kay’s blog!”
    We’ve really struggled with the comments on this post and another recent one. Given that the topics have been, in part, what is acceptable speech and what words can be used by whom… it’s hard to know where the line should be for comments.
    It would be much easier for us to just turn the comments off. But then folks like you don’t have the opportunity to weigh in.
    Please know that we evaluate every comment and do our best to strike a balance. We probably won’t get every one of them right.
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Steve Mays
    Kay’s Web Boy

  7. The end result of this proposal is going to be a tax increase, at least for some. No wonder Murphy doesn’t want a lot of publicity. It’s much easier if you can sneak your legislation through quickly (see “Wall Street Bailout”) without having to subject it to scrutiny.
    Listening to the audios, I did not hear the type of “chaos” that has been claimed. There was complete silence before Murphy declared that he was removing spectators. He was clearly not interested in having people present who disagreed strongly with him.
    Politicians are slowly arranging things so that voters have no say and we’re letting them. We deserve the mess we’ve got.

  8. Joe:
    Maybe you missed the part where Speaker Murphy kicked the public out of a after hours public hearing.