With no debate, Republicans in the Iowa Senate last night blocked Governor Culver’s nominee to head the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the first of the new governor’s nominees to be rejected. Republicans met in closed session and emerged opposing Gene Meyer’s nomination. Meyer had long served in the department’s Division of Criminal Investigation. Meyer is registered as an independent, as was also the mayor of West Des Moines.
The 31-to-18 vote fell short of the required two-thirds majority for confirmation. Senate Democrat leader Michael Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, was livid. Gronstal says: "We have a completely qualified person ready to take a position. Did one Republican ask him a question? Completely gutless." Gronstal continued to fume through his speech.
Gronstal says: "You don’t have the guts to even stand up and be counted. You go into caucus and in secret — in secret — take somebody down. That’s right, smirk, some of you, smirk, because you have no guts. You ought to be ashamed. I hope you sleep well tonight."
Senate Republican leader Mary Lundby, of Marion, says the new public safety chief should come from outside the department. Lundby says, "Being an insider in the department brings with it some problems. Biases against certain individuals, biases possibly against divisions within that department, maybe biases against directors of divisions within that department."
Governor Culver issued a statement after the vote calling the Republican objections "eleventh hour concerns that came out of nowhere." Another vote is possible. The governor said he’d make himself and Meyer available to answer concerns. Culver says the Senate chose partisanship over public safety. Republicans say they will also block confirmation of one the governor’s nominees to the Board of Regents.