October 30, 2014

Ex-Branstad staffer challenging long-time Democratic attorney general

Adam Gregg

Adam Gregg

The Republican who’s challenging Iowa’s long-term Democratic attorney general was born four years after incumbent Tom Miller first took office. Thirty-one-year-old Adam Gregg left Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s staff this spring to run for attorney general.

“We need an attorney general who stands up every single day for Iowa agriculture, not just in an election year, not just after a political opponent has made it an issue,” Gregg says.

Gregg says Miller had been silent on the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial rule about water on farmland until Gregg publicly criticized the EPA for over-reach.

“No attorney general in this country has stood up for his farmers like I have,” Miller says in response. “When I first became attorney general I created the first farm division in any attorney general’s office in the county and since then we’ve been the fighter and protector of farmers.”

Miller, who is 70 years old, was first elected attorney general in 1978. Miller was out of office for four years after an unsuccessful run for governor in 1990, but has held the job of attorney general for 32 years.

Tom Miller

Tom Miller

“I love this job,” Miller says. “I think it’s extremely rewarding. I go to work every day enthused. I come back home every night thinking that I did the right thing.”

Gregg questions Miller’s independence.

“It seems like every opportunity he gets he’s siding with the Obama Administration,” Gregg says. “It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that it seems like he’s become Obama’s lawyer and not Iowa’s lawyer.”

Miller says Obama has his own lawyer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I’m the lawyer for the people of Iowa, for the ordinary Iowan, for state government, for Governor Branstad and the agencies,” Miller says.

Miller questions Gregg’s ability to run the office since Gregg has never practiced criminal law. Gregg says as attorney general, his clients would be the citizens of Iowa and he’d focus on protecting their interests.

“I’ve advocated creating a division within the attorney general’s office focused solely on prosecuting cyber crime because, like many of the things in our lives, crime has moved online,” Gregg says.

Gregg grew up in Hawarden and played football at Central College in Pella. He got his law degree from Drake University. Miller is a Dubuque native who graduated from Loras College. Miller got his law degree from Harvard.

McCain says Ernst’s military service would be ‘asset’ in Senate

Arizona Senator John McCain is campaigning with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst today.

“Iowans are concerned about out national security, about the treatment of our veterans and the need to fix that,” McCain says. “I think they realize that Joni is exactly the kind of person with her experience and background, also in the legislature, that will make her hit the ground running when she gets to the United States Senate.”

McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is among a dwindling number of senators with a military background. Ernst, a battalion commander in the Iowa National Guard, is one of a handful of 2014 candidates for the U.S. Senate who have run campaign ads featuring photos of themselves in their military uniforms. McCain says military experience isn’t required, but it’s an “enormous asset” for a member of the senate.

“Joni Ernst has served in a position of command. She understand what morale, efficiency, the capabilities of the men and women who are serving and, most of all, the hardships that men and women undergo as they are serving the country,” McCain says.

McCain and Ernst met with about 150 veterans at an American Legion Post in Coralville today, where McCain referred to President Obama’s foreign policy as “feckless” and he called the present state of the Veterans Administration “unacceptable.”

Shenandoah man arrested in 2009 death of girlfriend

Brian Davis

Brian Davis

State investigators believe they’ve solved a more than five-year-old murder case in southwest Iowa. Iowa DCI Special Agent in Charge Darrell Simmons says a Shenandoah man was arrested this afternoon for the July 2009 shooting death of 29-year-old Holly Durbin.

Simmons says 34-year-old Brian Davis was Durbin’s boyfriend. Davis was long considered the prime suspect, but Simmons says new evidence just recently surfaced that will give prosecutors a more solid case.

“We’re not releasing that information. There was just some further investigating that occurred. I guess I really don’t want to go too much into that at this time,” Simmons said.

Brian Davis had placed the 911 call on July 18, 2009 and responding officers found Holly Durbin dead in her home, which she shared with Davis. An autopsy determined Durbin was shot in the head and had other injuries.

Davis is now being held at the Fremont County Jail on a one-million dollar cash bond.


Hillary Clinton rallies with Braley backers in eastern Iowa (AUDIO)

Hillary Clinton campaigning with Bruce Braley.

Hillary Clinton campaigning with Bruce Braley.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigned for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley in Cedar Rapids this afternoon, speaking to about 400 supporters crowded into a union hall.

“This race comes down to one question about all others: Who’s on your side?'” Clinton said, and people in the crowd responded: “Bruce.”

Clinton continued: “That’s the right answer. Now you just have to get out there and convince everybody else that’s the right answer.”

Clinton acknowledged she was “talking to the choir” about Braley’s candidacy and she urged the crowd to do everything they could in the next six days to help Braley win a six-year term in the Senate.

“You never worried where Tom Harkin stood. He was a fighter for Iowa,” Clinton said. “You will never worry where Bruce Braley stands. He’s a fighter for Iowa.”

Braley is in a tight race with Republican Joni Ernst and Clinton criticized Ernst’s economic plans, including her opposition to a federal minimum wage, and Ernst’s willingness to consider privatizing Social Security.

“Why is the race so close and why are we here, getting everybody ginned up to go out and work?” Clinton said. “Well, because you know there is a flood of unaccountable outside money trying to muddy the waters here in Iowa and drown out your voices.”

Bruce Braley presented Hillary Clinton with a Hawkeye outfit for her grandbaby.

Bruce Braley presented Hillary Clinton with a Hawkeye outfit for her grandbaby.

Ernst would be the first woman elected to congress from Iowa, but Clinton suggested Ernst’s stand on certain issues, like abortion, put her out of step with the mainstream.

“It’s not enough to be a woman. You have to be committed to expand rights and opportunities for all women,” Clinton said, to extended cheers and applause from the crowd.

And Clinton criticized Ernst for not being willing to “answer the tough questions” from editorial writers for The Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Dubuque Telegraph Herald and The Des Moines Register.

“It truly seems like it should be disqualifying in Iowa, of all states, to avoid answering questions,” Clinton said.

According to Clinton, Braley has withstood “a withering barrage of negative ads and innuendo” from outside groups supporting Ernst.

“Don’t let anybody hide behind outside money and negative ads,” Clinton said.

AUDIO of Clinton’s remarks, 24:00

Clinton is campaigning with Braley in Davenport this evening. A spokesman for the Iowa Republican Party dismissed Clinton as “out of touch” with small business owners and entrepreneurs for suggesting earlier this week that corporations and businesses don’t create jobs, while the Iowa GOP spokesman stressed that Ernst supports “pro-growth” policies that help “job creators.”

Ernst is campaigning with Arizona Senator John McCain today.


Moville teen being evaluated after threats that led to 4 school lockdowns

A teenager was taken into custody today for allegedly making threats that led to the lock down of four schools around Sioux City. Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew says the parents of 16-year-old Matthew Maxwell of Moville had not heard from him since 9:30 last night.

He had reportedly taken a gun to Siouxland Christian School on Monday and Tuesday. “We were concerned over some threats that were made and notified the schools. Siouxland Christian…the Sioux City Police did the lockdown there. We contacted Woodbury-Central, Lawton-Bronson, and Kingsley-Pierson,” Drew said.

All of those schools were locked down today as police searched for Maxwell, who is a former Woodbury-Central student and has ties to Lawton-Bronson. Drew said Maxwell had a firearm when he was found along a gravel road southeast of Moville, but he was taken into custody “without any incident.”

The teen was taken to a hospital for an evaluation. The Woodbury County Attorney is considering charges in the case.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)


Christmas toy drive for needy kids already underway

Toys4TotsIt may be late October but the organizers of a popular year-end charity campaign that provides gifts to low-income children across the region are already gearing up for the season ahead.

Kathy O’Hara is spokeswoman for the United Way of the Midlands. “It does probably to most of us feel far too early to think about Christmas,” O’Hara says, “but in order to run a program the size of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, they need to get started early.”

There are multiple campaigns underway in various parts of the state. In the Omaha-Council Bluffs area, O’Hara says Toys for Tots provided 40,000 gifts to kids last year.

“For the Marine Corps Reserve to get all of those loaded up to a warehouse where they can sort them all by age,” O’Hara says. “They’re asking for people to donate new and unwrapped toys. These would be items that would be appropriate for anywhere from an infant up to a child who’s age 14.”

Families who want to apply for the program in most Iowa cities can call 2-1-1. Applications will be taken in many areas starting this Saturday. Toy drop-off boxes are already in place in dozens of locations.


Court denies appeal for Cedar Rapids man in daughter’s death

The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of an eastern Iowa man in the death of his young daughter. Twenty-five-year-old Zyriah Schlitter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death following after his 17-month-old daughter died in 2010 from severe head injuries.

Schlitter’s appeal said statements he made to police violated his Miranda rights and he also claimed his attorney was ineffective in several areas. The Appeals Court ruled Schlitter was not in custody during his interview and there was no issue with his Miranda rights. It also ruled that there was enough evidence for the jury to find Schlitter guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and he was not given ineffective representation by his lawyer.

Schlitter is serving up to 55 years in prison for his conviction.

Here’s the complete ruling: Schlitter ruling PDF