Democrats blast S.O.S. for blasting Huntsman

The Iowa Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Republican Matt Schultz, Iowa’s Secretary of State.  As the Secretary of State, Schultz is the state’s commisioner of elections and he weighed in this past week on former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s vow not to campaign in Iowa.  The Iowa Democratic Party accused Schultz of using “public resources for political purposes.”

Republican Governor Terry Branstad used one of his weekly news conference in his statehouse office to issue a call to all candidates to come to Iowa and campaign.  At another news conference in his statehouse office, Branstad specifically said Mitt Romney should campaign in Iowa. When I asked Sam Roecker, a spokesman for the Iowa Democratic Party, if the IDP intended to file a similar complaint against Branstad for “using public resources for political purposes”, Roecker said no. “Secretary Schultz has gone beyond just talking about the caucuses, he used an official press release to single out and attack a candidate in the caucus process,” Roecker wrote in an email reply. “Governor Branstad has promoted the overall process and encouraged involvement, but hasn’t crossed the line of advocating for or against a specific candidate.”

Schultz accused Huntsman of using a “red herring” excuse to avoid campaigning in Iowa and Schultz said he hoped Huntsman would change his mind and come to Iowa campaign. Schultz has not publicly endorsed a candidate and does not intend to do so before the Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll in August, as Schultz will be the official who oversees the tally of straw poll votes.

The Iowa Democratic Party argues Schultz violated section 68A.505 of the Iowa Code when he used an official Secretary of State email address to send out his statement about Huntsman.  Read that section of the Iowa Code below:

68A.505 Use of public moneys for political purposes.

The state and the governing body of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the state shall not expend or permit the expenditure of public moneys for political purposes, including expressly advocating the passage or defeat of a ballot issue.

This section shall not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of officials or employees of the state or of officials or employees of a governing body of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the state. This section also shall not be construed to prohibit the state or a governing body of a political subdivision of the state from expressing an opinion on a ballot issue through the passage of a resolution or proclamation.

This is what Schultz emailed Monday:


Des Moines, Iowa – June 6, 2011 – Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz released the following statement today regarding Jon Huntsman’s comments on his intention to skip the Iowa Caucus due to his opposition to ethanol subsidies:

Over the years I have heard presidential candidates state reasons for skipping the Iowa caucuses. It always leaves me wondering if those are the real reasons for not coming to Iowa. The most recent example of this is Jon Huntsman’s announcement that he won’t compete in Iowa. Apparently, Huntsman believes that he will not get a fair shake in Iowa because he opposes ethanol subsidies. In my opinion, this excuse seems to have as much credibility as “the dog ate my homework.”

It is apparent that Mr. Huntsman is in need of a lesson in Iowa politics.  Iowa is a bellwether state.  We care about our families, our faith and our freedom.  We are not single-issue voters.  We just want to know how presidential candidates are going to make our country better. Hopefully Mr. Huntsman will change his mind and come to Iowa and explain how he plans on fixing the problems facing our country.

Iowans look forward to the opportunity to hear Mr. Huntsman’s vision for America. We will listen to him explain his support for Cap and Trade. We will listen to him explain why he took more than one billion dollars in federal stimulus money. We will listen to him explain why he wants to replace his former boss, Barack Obama.  We will listen to him explain why he is distancing himself from his Mormon faith.  Mr. Huntsman should know that Iowans elected me as their Secretary of State and my Mormon faith was never an issue.

Is Jon Huntsman not coming to Iowa because he opposes ethanol subsidies or because he is afraid to explain his positions on other issues?  Iowa Congressman Steve King opposes ethanol subsidies and he continues to get reelected with large margins of victory. If Mr. Huntsman refuses to compete in a bellwether state like Iowa, he is not ready for the big dance.  After all, our last two presidents won the Iowa Caucus before they went to the White House.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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