State and federal prosecutors today announced no criminal charges will be filed in the “Tapegate” scandal that’s rocked Iowa’s U-S Senate race between Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Greg Ganske. Des Moines police, an F-B-I agent and assistant Polk County Attorneys conducted the investigation into the Harkin campaign’s secret taping of a Ganske fundraising meeting. Polk County Attorney John Sarcone says the group “unanimously” agreed no laws were broken. Sarcone, a democrat who is elected to the job of County Attorney, has a sister who works in Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle’s office. Republicans have complained Sarcone shouldn’t have been investigating the case. Sarcone says in the 12 years he’s held the office, he’s made decisions involving people from every walk of life. He says the guiding principle in deciding to charge someone with a crime is always whether or not they broke the law. Sarcone says it’s “mean spirited” to bring his sister into the issue, and the decision, he says, was based on the law. Sarcone says 750 invitations were sent out by the Ganske campaign, and Brian Conley — the man who secretly taped the meeting, was invited and didn’t break any laws.Sarcone says the Harkin campaign’s passing of the tape to a reporter didn’t cause injury because it’s essentially reporting the truth of what went on during the Ganske meeting. Investigators interviewed Ganske and Harkin campaign staff, but not Conley — the taper — or Rafael Ruthchild, the Harkin campaign worker who’s been identified by Senator Harkin as the brainchild of the “caper.” Sarcone says Harkin was not interviewed either, because they determined they were looking at the conduct of the person doing the taping, and if that person didn’t violate the law, then no one else violated the law.The U-S Attorney in Illinois, who was appointed to the job by the Republican President, has also determined “there was no violation of federal law” and “no further action will be taken.”
Democrat Senator Tom Harkin and Greg Ganske, his Republican challenger, rehashed “tape-gate” last night during a televised debate in Cedar Rapids, but the real squabble occurred off-camera. The candidates disagreed over whether to sit on stools — that’s what Harkin wanted to do — or stand behind a lectern. Ganske wanted one for his notes. They ended up with lecterns pulled onto stage five minutes before show time, and because of the scramble, the candidates had to hold their microphones like lounge singers. During the debate, they sang the same tunes Iowans have been hearing from them on all the campaign issues, and each repeated their refrain over the Harkin campaign’s secret taping of a Ganske fundraising meeting. The candidates were asked how they’d vote on the resolution authorizing the use of U-S military might against Iraq. Congressman Ganske called it a “serious decision.” Ganske said Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and has played “rope-a-dope” with U-N resolutions. Ganske said it’s time to make sure Hussein follows the rules. Senator Harkin said it’ll be a “tough vote.” Harkin said he’ll wait to see the final version of the resolution before announcing whether he’ll vote for it. Last night’s debate was sponsored by KCRG television and the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Democrat Tom Harkin’s campaign is scoffing at the announcement that G-O-P Senate candidate Greg Ganske’s campaign may pursue its own lawsuit against Harkin if criminal charges aren’t filed in “tape-gate”. A man who was a Harkin aide in the mid-70s admitted he secretly taped a Ganske fundraiser, and officials are investigating. Republicans yesterday questioned whether Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, a democrat, should pass the case along to someone else because of a conflict of interest. John Frew, Harkin’s new campaign manager, says that’s ridiculous.Frew says Republicans are using “political pressure” to try to “influence justice.” Frew says the Ganske campaign should wait for the County Attorney to announce his decision about whether to press charges before talking about filing a lawsuit of their own.
Republican U-S Senate candidate Greg Ganske’s campaign has hired a lawyer and may pursue its own lawsuit against rival Democrat Tom Harkin if criminal charges aren’t filed. The new line Republicans are pressing is that Polk County Attorney John Sarcone should recuse himself from the case and let some other County Attorney’s office handle the investigation of the Harkin campaign’s secret taping of a Ganske fundraiser. The federal prosecutor who got the case in Des Moines has ties to Ganske and the Republican Party and has passed the federal investigation off to a U-S Attorney in Illinois. Becky Knutson, the attorney Ganske’s hired, is raising questions about the Polk County Attorney’s connections to Harkin. If the Polk County Attorney stays on the case, and doesn’t file criminal charges, the Ganske camp will consider filing its own civil lawsuit. She says if someone willfully intercepts or procures someone to intercept an oral communication, it’s a violation of Iowa law.Ganske campaign manager Bill Armistead says a civil lawsuit is “certainly a possibility.” He says they believe a crime was committed.The Polk County Attorney said earlier this week that he expected to quickly make a decision about whether charges would be filed, but has since backed away from suggesting that decision might be made public today. On Tuesday, Knutson talked with one of the assistant county attorneys working on the case. Knutson says at this point it appears the Polk County Attorney’s office is getting started with the investigation, so it’s too early to tell if they’re conducting a thorough investigation.
Democrat Senator Tom Harkin says he’s been “hurt personally” and “scarred” by the tape scandal that has rocked his re-election campaign against Republican rival Greg Ganske. Harkin admitted last Friday that a former employee in his Congressional office had secretly taped a Ganske fundraising meeting. Harkin laid the blame on a “overzealous young staffer” who has resigned, and Harkin fired his campaign manager. Harkin says he’s been in public office for 28 years, and he says there’s never been a “hint” of anything unethical, professionally or personally. Harkin says after he learned of the taping episode, he took action, put a new team on board, and he says he can assure Iowans it’ll never happen again. Harkin says the unfolding scandal has affected him “very deeply,” and the episode has left some deep scars in his own personal life. Ganske campaign officials scoff at Harkin’s statements, saying Harkin has a reputation of pushing and exceeding the ethical limit in all his campaigns. Ganske campaign manager Bill Armistead says Harkin can deal with his personal demons by “coming clean” on what really happened within the campaign.
Republican U-S Senate candidate Greg Ganske last night asked his opponent, Democrat Senator Tom Harkin, to “come clean” about the details of a taping scandal. The two candidates met face-to-face in their first debate of the campaign season last night on W-O-I radio, and Ganske directly asked Harkin whether he had anything to do with the secret taping of a Ganske fundraising meeting.Ganske said Harkin needed to tell Iowans what he knew, and when he knew it. Harkin acknowledged “mistakes had been made” and but he said no crime had been committed.Harkin said it was time to raise the campaign above bitter, partisan politics and start talking about the issues. Ganske persisted, asking specific questions, like whether Harkin had taken precautions to ensure evidence isn’t being shredded or destroyed.Harkin responded.Harkin said there’s a reason Ganske keeps harping on the issue. Harkin said it’s because Ganske doesn’t want to talk about his record. After the debate, Ganske kept pressing the issue, and Harkin was asked by a reporter why he didn’t use last night’s debate to apologize to Ganske in person. Harkin said he had apologized to Ganske last week, and Harkin said “usually when someone apologizes, you’re man enough to accept it.” A Des Moines Register poll released this weekend showed Harkin has opened a 20-point lead over Ganske (54 to 34 percent) and some of those who answered the survey did so after the taping controversy became public knowledge.
Democrat Senator Tom Harkin says “one young staffer” was the only person on his campaign who directed and was responsible for the flap over the secret taping of a fundraiser held by rival Greg Ganske. Harkin says the young man got “carried away” by “youthful exuberance” and “went over the line of acceptable campaign practice.” Harkin says the young man was hired to monitor Ganske’s public meetings and asked a Des Moines businessman who had worked for Harkin in the mid-70s to tape the fundraising meeting, as he’d been issued an invitation to it by the Ganske campaign. Harkin says, “It appears these shenanigans were the work of one young staffer who did not have adequate supervision or control.” Harkin has accepted the resignation of his campaign manager, Jeff Link, and installed a new leadership team.A criminal investigation has been launched. Harkin calls the matter a “Dennis the Menace caper” that doesn’t rise to the level of a crime. After avoiding the media for nearly a week and an early denial from Link that the campaign was responsible for handing the tape and transcript to a newspaper reporter, Harkin held a news conference in a Des Moines hotel Friday night, and was surrounded by local Democrats. Harkin told the crowd Ganske wants to focus on the episode because he doesn’t want to focus on the real issues.Harkin says Republicans are engaging in “political antics” by calling for a criminal investigation. Harkin has hired David Wiggins, a Des Moines lawyer, to investigate the matter. Wiggins told reporters he’s convinced the only people who knew anything about the arrangements were Brian Conley and the young staffer, who he identified as a “Mr. Ruthchild.” Harkin said Conley worked for his Congressional staff in 1975 and part of ’76. Harkin says “hundreds” of people have worked for him and he lost track of Conley, and can’t remember the last time he saw Conley. The young staffer Harkin identified as the scapegoat resigned from the campaign earlier this week. Republicans say they don’t buy the Senator’s explanation that a single staff member thought up and carried out the scheme on his own.
Entertainer Wayne Newton headlined a fundraiser for Republican U-S Senate candidate Greg Ganske before giving a free concert last night in Altoona. Wayne Newton had his first gold record at the age of 21 when “Danke Schoen” topped the charts. Newton, who is known as “Mr. Las Vegas” because of his stage shows, didn’t sing at all for the crowd of about 85 Ganske supporters who gathered yesterday in Des Moines. He gave a speech and talked about his political views, then posed for pictures and signed autographs. Newton says he’s politically active because he’s an American. He says he hopes his status as a performer might make people take interest in his views, and he says being an American gives him the right to express his views.Newton says it’s time for all Americans to become politically active. Newton says he did the Ganske gig because President Bush asked him to. He says the White House found out he was going to be in Iowa and he says the President is a big supporter of Ganske. Former Governor Robert Ray introduced Newton to the predominantly female crowd and got some laughs when he began by asking folks to turn off their tape recorders, a joke spawned by the current controversy over the secret taping of a Ganske campaign fundraiser.
Iowa Republican Party chairman Chuck Larson says a man who used to work for
Tom Harkin is responsible for taping a private fundraising pitch made by
G-O-P Senate candidate Greg Ganske. Larson says a “mole” was sent into the room to tape the entire campaign and it was taken promptly back to Senator Harkin. Larson says they received “nothing but lies and denials” from the Harkin campaign, and he says “they only tell the truth when they’re forced to.” Larson won’t name the person, who just yesterday hired a lawyer and issued a statement through that attorney describing himself as a disillusioned Ganske donor but refusing to reveal his name. Larson says his review of the list of people in the Ganske meeting uncovered a single name that stuck out like a sore thumb. He says the information has been turned over the U-S Attorney’s office. Larson says the man’s story doesn’t ring true. Larson says the individual once worked for Senator Harkin and
is a “family friend.” Larson says the Harkin campaign’s fingerprints are all over the episode, as Larson says the recorder used to tape the Ganske meeting was given to the man by the Harkin campaign.
Larson says the individual is a “family friend” of Harkin’s who wrote a ‘letter to the editor’ in the Des Moines Register attacking Ganske and praising Harkin. The man, identified in the paper and by Radio Iowa sources as Brian Conley of Des Moines, made a 50-dollar donation to the Ganske campaign this summer. Larson says the move got him into the meeting, where he acted like a “mole or a spy.”
Conley, a Des Moines businessman, was a registered Democrat until this past June, when he changed his party affiliation to Republican for a few weeks before switching it back. The Harkin campaign issued a statement last night, disclosing that the staff person who handed the transcript to a newspaper reporter last week has resigned. David Wiggins, legal counsel for the campaign, described Conley’s conduct as “unacceptable to Senator Harkin.” Wiggins said his investigation is hampered, though, because Conley’s hired a lawyer who won’t let him talk. Wiggins maintained the Ganske meeting was neither private nor confidential and no crime was committed.
Larson’s calling on Senator
Harkin and his campaign manager to come clean.
Sources tell Radio Iowa the man’s name is Brian Conley, a 50-something
businessman from Des Moines. Senator Harkin first delayed, and then cancelled his weekly conference call with reporters today without explanation.
The person who secretly taped Republican U-S Senate candidate Greg Ganske’s private meeting and turned it over to Senator Tom Harkin’s campaign has come forward — sort of. The person hired a lawyer and issued a statement through that attorney yesterday, but the person responsible for the taping isn’t revealing his identity for business and personal reasons, according to the statement. The man was invited to the Ganske event because he had donated to Ganske in the past. The man says he became “incensed” by Ganske’s attitude and turned the tape over to rival Harkin camp, but did not make a transcript. The man’s attorney says his client was within his rights to tape the meeting as a means of taking notes since he was an invited guest and a participant in the discussion. The Ganske campaign questions that, as they say the man’s “surreptitious actions” were meant to cause injury to the Ganske campaign. Meanwhile, Des Moines police say they’ll start an investigation of the incident today.