February 14, 2016

Congressman King responds to ‘fury’ over Caucus Night (AUDIO)

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Congressman Steve King. (file photo)

Congressman Steve King today said there is “fury…boiling over” about the results of Iowa’s Caucuses, but King said he had “no ill intent” with his tweet on Caucus night that it looked like Ben Carson was dropping out of the presidential race.

Carson backers say King — who backs Ted Cruz — misled some Carson supporters into switching to Cruz.

“If I had it to do over again knowing what I know now, I would not have issued that information, however accurate it was,” King told Radio Iowa. “But knowing when I knew then, having reviewed the chronology or had access to, I would be compelled to do the same thing given the information that I had.”

King said he had a 45-minute private meeting with Carson Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. and the two emerged as friends.

“My understanding of that conversation is that Ben is satisfied, as am I,” King said early this afternoon.

Donald Trump has said Cruz and King cheated by telling Iowans heading into the caucuses that Carson was dropping out. Governor Terry Branstad has gone so far as to use the word “unethical” to describe King’s actions. King said Branstad was “out of line” to openly call for the defeat of Cruz in the Caucuses because of Cruz’s opposition to the federal ethanol production mandate.

“So now we have a governor making remarks publicly about my ethics?” King asked rhetorically during his interview with Radio Iowa. “I think he should go back and examine the ethics of the ARF organization that’s headed by his son and examine the motives of those people.”

America’s Renewable Future is a Super PAC headed by Eric Branstad, the governor’s oldest son, and it campaigned against Cruz. King acknowledges that it appears there is now a rift within the Iowa GOP.

“It’s too bad that there are those that want to try to start a fire and throw gas on it and to disparage the Ted Cruz victory and actually it drags us all down,” King said. “And I would like to think that especially the high-profile Republicans in the state are more prudent than that and it doesn’t look like they’re demonstrating that this week, at least. Maybe next week.”

King said Iowans “can be proud” of the results from Monday night and he’s willing to take the “arrows” being directed his way.

“The American people — and Iowans in particular — we like to take some pride in being very vigorous competitors, but also we ought to take some pride in being able to accept the loss as long as we did all we can do morally and ethically and vigorously to achieve our objectives,” King said. “And if the people that did not achieve their objectives aren’t able to look at their effort that way, I think that would explain some of the fury that’s boiling over here.”

AUDIO of King’s interview with Radio Iowa

(A previous version of this story indicated King had no regrets about his Tweet, but the congressman has contacted Radio Iowa this afternoon to indicate he had “no ill intent” in sending the Tweet.)

Branstad says Cruz employed ‘unethical and unfair’ tactics Monday night (AUDIO)

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad      (file photo)

Governor Terry Branstad is crediting Ted Cruz for running an “old-fashioned”, 99-county campaign that yielded victory in Monday night’s Iowa Caucuses, but Branstad is joining the chorus criticizing Cruz for “questionable” campaign tactics.

“This thing that they distributed on Caucus night saying that Dr. Carson was likely to drop out and his supporters should support Cruz, that is, I think, unethical and unfair,” Branstad said this morning. “I think there’ll be repercussions to that.”

Cruz has apologized to Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who finished fourth in the Caucuses on Monday night. Iowa Congressman Steve King, a Cruz backer, helped spread the drop out rumor and Branstad said King owes Carson an apology.

“You know, we have a strong sense of fairness in Iowa,” Branstad said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “Distributing information that was not true about a candidate right at the time people are voting in the Caucuses is an inappropriate thing.”

King tweeted: “Carson looks like he’s out” on Caucus night. King has told reporters in Washington, D.C. he had an “obligation” to tell Iowans about a report he’d seen indicating Carson was flying home to Florida Monday night rather than going to New Hampshire. Branstad is not out personally recruiting a Republican to challenge King in a primary this June.

“Yet I think there are a number of people in the renewable fuels industry that are not happy with (King),” Branstad says. “I guess time will tell what happens.”

Branstad is a critic of Cruz’s opposition to the federal ethanol production mandate. Two weeks before the Caucuses Branstad said he hoped Cruz would be defeated — a move Congressman King blasted as a “de facto endorsement” of Donald Trump.

“Well, I did,” Branstad said today of his wish for Cruz’s defeat. “Actually, I think Trump, by skipping the debate, hurt himself.”

Branstad’s 2010 and 2014 campaign managers migrated to New Jersey Chris Christie’s presidential campaign. Christie finished 10th, with fewer than 3300 votes. Branstad said Christie didn’t spend enough time campaigning in Iowa.

“None of the governors did well,” Branstad said. “…Rubio came on strong at the end because people were looking for somebody new.”

The Caucus winner was someone Branstad opposed and Christie finished next to last, but Branstad rejects the notion Monday’s Caucus results are in any way a rebuke of him.

“First of all I’m not running for president. I’ve never had an interest in running for president or national office,” Branstad said. “My focus is on my state and jobs in my state and farm income.”

AUDIO of Radio Iowa’s interview with Governor Terry Branstad

Branstad attended his precinct caucus Monday night, but he is not revealing who he voted for. Branstad said the record turn-out for Monday’s Republican Caucuses was “an encouraging sign” for the fall election, since Iowa is likely to be a toss-up state in the presidential race.

Couple sues over Hot Lotto mystery jackpot

Larry and Kathy Dawson.

Larry and Kathy Dawson.

A Webster City man, who claimed a $9 million Hot Lotto jackpot nearly five years ago, filed a lawsuit today claiming he deserved a much bigger prize.

In May of 2011, Larry Dawson won the first jackpot after a previous jackpot in the game was “rigged.” Attorney Jerry Crawford of Des Moines is representing Dawson.

“But for the rigging of the lottery by the lottery executive, our client would’ve won a cash value of $16 million, in total,” Crawford said. After taxes, Dawson collected $6 million in 2011.

Just a few months earlier, a $10 million cash value Hot Lotto jackpot was won. But, Eddie Tipton, a former executive with the Multi-State Lottery Association was recently convicted of fraud for “fixing” the game and trying to claim that prize.

Crawford believes that $10 million prize should go to Dawson. “The question that our lawsuit poses and that we think should be very easy to answer is if you can’t trust the lottery to pay you in full when you win, why should you ever play?” Crawford said.

After Tipton unsuccessfully attempted to redeem the ticket for the Hot Lotto prize and the redemption time expired, the $10 million was ruled to be an “unclaimed prize” and distributed back to the Iowa Lottery and other participating state lotteries.

Attorney Nick Mauro, who’s also representing Dawson, claims the Lottery broke its own rules. “The money that we’re talking about in this lawsuit was always intended and always earmarked to go to a jackpot winner,” Mauro said. “This money was never intended to go to the states’ general funds…or whatever the lottery does with its half of the profits. This was always intended to be jackpot money.”

Iowa Lottery officials issued a statement, saying “It is impossible to rewrite history. No one can know what would have occurred in this case had any event in it been changed. We believe that Mr. Dawson rightfully was paid the jackpot to which he was entitled.”

Crawford is surprised with the response. “We know our client won. We know their executive rigged the game. I’m a little surprised they want to be on that side instead of our side, to be honest,” Crawford said.

Crawford and Mauro spoke with reporters this afternoon in their law firm’s office in downtown Des Moines. Larry Dawson did not attend the news conference.

“He and his wife are not the kind of people who are looking for any limelight or attention. They could have been here, but they prefer not to be,” Crawford said. Crawford noted Larry and Kathy Dawson have donated a lot of their winnings to charity and they should not be viewed as “greedy” for filing the lawsuit.

“But, they also think that if somebody plays the lottery…you know, the odds aren’t exactly what we call ‘great’ to win the lottery and if you actually win, you should get your prize,” Crawford said.

The lawsuit was filed against the Iowa Lottery Authority and the Multi-State Lottery Association (MSLA). It’s the first in what could be several lawsuits filed by players claiming they were ripped off by games allegedly rigged by Eddie Tipton. The former security director of the MSLA is also accused of rigging jackpots in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma.


Iowa legislator demanding apology for Stanford band’s ‘corn show’ antics

The Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl.

A state senator says Iowa shouldn’t stand for what Stanford’s band did at halftime during the Rose Bowl last month.

The Stanford band put on what it called a “Farmers Only…corn show” — complete with cow tipping — to mock its Rose Bowl opponents: the University of Iowa.

Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, married into a family of Hawkeye fans and he was not amused.

“This was very disrespectful not only to the fans of the University of Iowa, but also to Iowans in general,” Chelgren told Radio Iowa this afternoon. “I was disappointed and I would like to see Stanford have the courage to stand up and say: ‘This was wrong,’ and to make a public apology.”

Chelgren is sponsoring legislation that calls on the University of Iowa and the other two universities that get state taxpayer support to cut ties with any Stanford researchers until that apology is made.

“There are areas of the country that apparently don’t share our Iowa values and I think we need to stand up for those virtues and values,” Chelgren said, “and this is one way to do that.”

Chelgren’s daughter, who went to the University of Iowa, was at the game.

“We’ve always taught our family to cheer as loud as you can for your team, but not really boo the other team, because they’re someone’s kids,” Chelgren said. “This just showed such a lack of respect for any kind of sportsmanship that I thought a statement had to be made.”

State Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville, represents the University of Iowa. He was watching the Rose Bowl and saw the halftime show on TV — until ESPN cut away from the performance before it concluded.

“I think what they did was offensive, but I don’t think you can blame the institution of Stanford for that,” Dvorsky told Radio Iowa.

That’s because the Stanford band is not a university-sanctioned group.

“It’s not like the Hawkeye Marching Band,” Dvorsky said. “…It’s just some loosely-organized student organization.”

Stanford officials had prohibited the band from traveling to The Cardinal’s road games this past season because of bad behavior, but the band was at the Rose Bowl for Stanford’s 45-16 victory over the Hawkeyes. Chelgren’s bill isn’t likely to pass the state senate, but Dvorsky isn’t suggesting Chelgren withdraw it.

“It sends a message,” Dvorsky said. “We didn’t like that.”

Chelgren, who grew up in California, is running for congress this year and hoping to defeat Dave Loebsack, the lone Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation who also happens to live in Iowa City.

Iowa Democratic Party chair says 2016 Iowa Caucus results ‘are final’

Andy McGuire (file photo)

Andy McGuire (file photo)

Iowa Democratic Party chair Andy McGuire late this afternoon said the results of her party’s caucuses “are final” and there will be no “recount” despite the photo-finish.

“I think we did a great job with the turnout we had and with the incredible closeness of the race and we reported the results and we stand by them,” she said during a Radio Iowa interview.

The results were reported just before noon today — nearly 17 hours after the Caucuses commenced Monday night. The Iowa Democratic Party announced Hillary Clinton won 3.77 more “delegate equivalents” on Caucus Night than Bernie Sanders. Clinton is calling it a victory. Sanders calls it a virtual tie. At one point today, the Sanders campaign suggested raw vote totals for each candidate should be released. McGuire said that will not happen.

“And the reason we don’t do that is this is a Caucus,” she told Radio Iowa. “This is not a straw poll.”

Some of the Democratic activists who attended the caucuses have contacted Radio Iowa to complain their precinct meetings were poorly run. One precinct in Des Moines failed to report its results on Caucus night and the reluctantly-elected chair of that precinct meeting handed in the results this morning.

“We always want to have the most well-organized caucuses we can, but when you’re dealing with volunteers and you’re dealing with overflow crowds, this actually a good thing for us,” McGuire said, “so I’ll take that — that there were more Democrats than we think were maybe going to come.”

McGuire rejected reports the party failed to recruit at least one person to serve as a temporary chair to start each precinct meeting.

“We have volunteers all over the state, 1681 of them that do their very best to have a wonderfully-run caucus,” McGuire said. “…We had 171,000-plus turnout which is a higher turnout than I think anyone expected.”

The campaign manager for Bernie Sanders has blasted the “arcane” rules by which the caucuses are run. For example, the Microsoft “app” designed to handle the results recorded seven “coin tosses” to determine which candidate would get a delegate.

“Six of them went to Bernie Sanders,” McGuire said this afternoon. “Five of those were between Hillary and Bernie Sanders. One of those was between Sanders and O’Malley and then there was one for Clinton, between Clinton and Sanders.”

The rules “haven’t changed,” according to McGuire.

“When there’s a tie, you’re going to have a game of chance and if there’s two people involved in a tie, typically we tell them in the rules — written down for everybody to see at all the trainings we did — that there’s a flip of the coin,” McGuire said. “Certainly that’s a very equitable way to do this.”

There may have been more “coin flips” at rural precincts where delegate counts were telephoned in rather than calculated and reported using the Microsoft app. All three presidential campaigns had representations in the “tabulation room” on Monday night and McGuire said any “grievances” raised then were addressed then. She has not personally talked to any representative of the Sanders campaign since then.

The results of the Republican Party’s caucuses in 2012 were razor thin as well, with the chairman of the Iowa GOP declaring Mitt Romney the winner on Caucus Night, then 10 days later releasing a “canvas” of precincts that indicated Rick Santorum won.

Iowa GOP chairman expresses pride in 2016 caucus turn-out


Jeff Kaufmann

A record number of Iowans participated in last night’s Republican caucuses.

“It went way beyond, way beyond what we ever dreamed we were going to have,” says Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann.

More than 186,000 turned out for the Republican Caucuses.

“We knew that there was enthusiasm. We knew that there was energy was out there. We could see it in the phone calls that were coming in . We could see it at the events,” Kaufmann says. “I don’t think anybody quite appreciated the level.”

Kaufmann says he was “taken aback” when reports started coming in about long lines at precinct sites around the state. Entrance polling indicates 43 percent of the people waiting in those lines were first-time Caucus-goers.

“As I now transition from caucus into preparing for the General Election, you know, it’s just a gold mine,” Kaufmann says.

The party will “immediately” try to communicate with those first-timers.

“That doesn’t mean you hit them up for money or turn them into Mr. or Ms. Republican of the Year,” Kaufmann says. “You begin, essentially, a dialogue.”

Some of those new voters are supporting just the one candidate at this point, according to Kaufmann, but he says it’s important to start a conversation that may keep those new voters in the Republican fold in November.

More than 170,00 Iowans participated in the Democratic Party’s caucuses last night and the Iowa Republican Party’s chair is praising them, too.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am,” Kaufmann says. “…We showed the entire world not only that can we take a broad leap in sophistication and technology in how we carry it out, but the methodical way that we did it — I’m just so proud of this state. I really, truly am.”

Kaufmann’s comments are directed to the “rank and file” Republicans and Democrats who participated in the Iowa Caucuses. Kaufmann says he wishes his counterpart “the best of luck” in dealing with critics who question the way the Iowa Democratic Party handled last night’s results.

Sanders camp weighs in on ‘arcane’ Iowa Caucuses

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

According to a report in The Washington Post, Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager says the “actual result” of the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2016 Caucuses may never be known.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver points to a number factors, including delayed caucus results from a few precincts. He also cites the “arcane” rules for deciding how a presidential candidate can win delegates. There were six coin tosses last night that Clinton won, for example.

There’s also the issue of the “app” Microsoft created for reporting the results. A week ago Sanders campaign started raising red flags, questioning why Microsoft was involved, because Microsoft executives have given to Clinton’s campaign and Microsoft founder Bill Gates has donated millions to the foundation former President Bill Clinton founded.

At 11:45 a.m., the Iowa Democratic Party announced the final results from last night. According to the party count, Clinton won 3.77 more “delegate equivalents” than Sanders did. The party does not release raw vote totals. More than 170,000 Iowans participated in a Democratic Party caucus last night.