Email potpourri, from butter to Twitter

I was out of the office late last week, attending a family wedding, and my email "inbox" was loaded this morning.  PETA doesn't like the idea of Michael Jackson in butter.  Republicans are still mad about a tax issue.  Chuck Grassley is still on Twitter. The governor is gearing up for reelection and he won't face Bill Northey.  In no particular order, I shall share the news tidbits from those email messages below.

The AFSCME local in Iowa has re-elected its president. According to a news release issued this morning:

This weekend, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 61 re-elected Council President Dan Homan at the 2009-16th AFSCME Council 61 Biennial Convention unanimously and without opposition.  AFSCME Iowa Council 61 represents nearly 40,000 public and private sector employees that include law enforcement and correctional officers, home health care and child care providers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers.

After the Iowa Senate refused to confirm his first choice, Governor Culver named chief of staff Charlie Krogmeier to serve as head of the Department of Human Services this spring. On Thursday, Culver's staff released the following:

Chet Culver named John Frew as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Governor…Frew was raised in Des Moines. He is a graduate of Dowling High School, and received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Iowa. He is also a graduate of the Creighton University School of Law. Frew’s first experience in politics and government was working in 1979 and 1980 for Governor Culver’s father, U.S. Senator John Culver. He has played key roles in several state-wide campaigns around the nation, including managing two back-to-back winning U.S. Senate campaigns – Tom Harkin in Iowa, in 1984, and Tim Wirth in Colorado, in 1986. Frew also served as Chief of Staff to U.S Senator Wirth. In addition to having practiced law in Denver, Frew has worked on a number of major sporting venues, events and attractions. His work includes counsel to the authority that developed a major league baseball stadium in Denver, president of a trade group representing ski resorts in Colorado, creator of the Grand Prix of Denver, and developer of minor league sports facilities in both Colorado and Texas. Frew will begin as Chief of Staff on September 28th.

Iowa native Teresa Villmain will return to Iowa campaign scene according to a release from Chet Culver's 2010 re-election campaign,  Vilmain will serve as a senior advisor.  More from that email release:

Vilmain was born and raised in Cedar Falls, where she graduated from Northern University High School. Vilmain's political work began in Iowa on the Culver for U.S. Senate campaign. She also served as deputy campaign manager on Tom Harkin's first U.S. Senate race in 1984 and Iowa Director for the Dukakis presidential campaign in the 1988 caucuses. She was a general consultant to Governor Tom Vilsack's campaign in 1998 and 2002, as well as the Vilsack for President campaign, and then served as the Iowa State Director of Hillary Clinton for President. Her success and experience in Iowa has taken her to campaigns around the nation. In Wisconsin, Vilmain was a consultant to Jim Doyle's successful gubernatorial campaign in 2002 as well as to U.S. Senator Herb Kohl's winning campaigns in 1988 and 1994. She has also managed campaigns in Pennsylvania, New York and California, and was a consultant to both the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Most recently, Vilmain was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Governor Culver, a Democrat, and Republicans in the legislature continue to feud over the issue of alligning Iowa's tax laws to mirror changes made at the federal level.  You may have read last week that some deductions now allowed at the federal level are not allowed at the state level. House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen issued a statement on Thursday and Governor Chet Culver's staff released a letter the govenror sent on this issue.  Read both below.

(DES MOINES)—Today House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) called the governor’s  failure to couple Iowa tax laws with federal tax law changes and allow disaster victims, students, and teachers to keep their full tax return a calculated decision, not an accident.

In February, the governor’s office received a memo from the Department of Revenue outlining federal tax changes and how they would affect Iowans’ tax bills.  The governor and legislative Democrats knew in February that a failure to couple with the changes meant Iowans could not deduct disaster losses, college tuition and fees, or educator expenses from their Iowa returns.

In March, Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee tried to force the committee to bring up the legislation dealing with the tax changes.  Unfortunately for Iowans, all the House Democrats on the committee voted against the bill to allow disaster victims to fully deduct net disaster losses. 

Additionally, House Republicans repeatedly requested debate on the House floor on this important issue.

“The governor is acting like this was an accident or an oversight.  That is not what happened,” said House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen.  “The governor and Legislative Democrats made a calculated decision to not couple with federal law and force Iowans to payback tax returns because they needed the money for their spending plans.  House Republicans stand ready to correct this error.”

It has been at least 20 years since the Legislature failed to pass a bill that couples with the federal tax changes.  Even in 2000 and 2001, when the state was facing similar economic hardships, the Legislature still coupled with the federal changes. 

Here is a letter Governor Culver sent his Department of Revenue director on Thursday.

July 9, 2009

Mark Schuling
Director of Revenue
Hoover State Office Building

Dear Mark:

It has come to my attention that many taxpayers in counties throughout Iowa that were impacted by the disasters in 2008 were eligible for tax relief provisions as part of the Midwestern Disaster Relief Act passed by Congress in 2008.   It is possible that many of these taxpayers filed their Iowa income tax returns claiming the same tax relief that was provided for federal tax purposes.

The Iowa legislature during its 2009 session did not couple the Iowa law with these federal tax changes related to disaster relief.  I am aware that changes must be made by the Iowa legislature in order for these same disaster relief provisions to be available for Iowa tax purposes.  This will require legislation in 2010 to couple with the federal law changes that will benefit those individuals and businesses directly impacted by the 2008 disasters.

I am asking you to hold off specific enforcement on those taxpayers who may have claimed these special federal disaster relief provisions on their Iowa tax returns. I will continue to engage in discussions with legislative leaders from both sides of the political aisle to make sure that this issue is resolved in 2010 with the same urgency and bipartisanship that was given to other disaster-related legislation. I would also request that you identify which provisions of the Midwestern Disaster Relief Act passed by Congress in 2008 may have be applicable to Iowa taxpayers.

Thank you for your efforts in helping Iowans recover from the 2008 disasters.


Chester J. Culver

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey held a fundraiser this weekend for his re-election campaign.  It means he won't be running for governor.  Here's the Tweet he sent this weekend:

"I announced to the crowd at Bill's BBQ Bash that I will run for re-election as Iowa Secy of Ag in 2010."

Iowans for Christian Fong — the Cedar Rapids Republican who intends to run for governor in 2010 — sent this email on Friday:

(Cedar Rapids, IA)  Today David Chung resigned his post on the Republican State Central Committee in order to volunteer and publicly support Christian Fong’s campaign for Governor.
Chung posted the letter he sent 2nd District Republicans on his web site,

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
“…I further promised that while serving on the State Central Committee, I would remain neutral and not make any endorsements in contested Republican primaries. I am excited that we have such an excellent field of Republican candidates for governor.  It has always been my intent to remain neutral in the upcoming gubernatorial primary and give my full support to the winner.
However, last week everything changed. Last Friday my good friend and fellow Eastern Iowan, Christian Fong announced that he intended to run for governor. I ran for State Central Committee because I wanted to make a difference, I wanted not just to elect Republicans but to see those core principles defined in our platform enacted. Christian is a social conservative with excellent business and financial credentials; he is a visionary and a leader in our community; he is a husband, a father and most importantly a man of integrity. He is exactly what Iowa needs. With Christian in the race I now believe that I can make the biggest difference for our state, our district, my community and my family by working as a volunteer to help him win the GOP nomination and beat Chet Culver in 2010.”

“David Chung’s sacrifice in stepping down from the Central Committee and the work of the Republican Party, something he is so passionate about, in order to publicly support my campaign is humbling.  David is a stalwart in the Republican Party.  I am honored to have him on our team to restore our shared Iowa values to state government,” said Christian Fong.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley sent the following Tweet this morning as he prepared to sit through the confirmation hearing for supreme court nominee Sonia Sotomayor:

"Watch Supreme Court nominee on TV b4 Judiciary. I b there most of this wk"

PETA is voting "no" on a butter sculpture of Michael Jackson at this year's Iowa State Fair.  The group sent a letter to the fair's manager, making references to a couple of Jackson's songs  The email came from someone named Shakira, but it wasn't THAT Shakira. Read part of the PETA letter below.

Gary Slater
Manager and CEO
Iowa State Fair 2009

Dear Mr. Slater,
On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our thousands of members and supporters across Iowa, I'd like to suggest a compassionate alternative for your statue honoring the late 'King of Pop,' Michael Jackson. Michael donated to many children's health charities in the hopes of providing a healthier future for kids. In tribute to his passion, please don't promote artery-clogging dairy products to children by using butter for the statue. Instead, we suggest that you use dairy-free Earth Balance, a healthier "buttery" spread, or another vegan butter alternative.

…Making the statue out of cruel and unhealthy dairy products is simply a "bad" idea. In honor of Michael's concern for kids' health, please use dairy-free butter for the statue—we're sure you'll find that you can't "beat it."


Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

Matt Strawn, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, is on a Politico list of 50 "politicos" to watch.  Finally, The Iowa Republican website is touting data from a firm it paid to poll Iowans on a variety of subjects.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

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