July 22, 2014

Senator Grassley to discuss ‘nonsensical regulations’ with head of EPA

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley will meet later today with the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an outfit he says is out to “harm American agriculture” with it’s far-reaching policies. Grassley, a Republican, is scheduled to meet with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on “agriculture regulator matters” and Grassley says he’ll be giving McCarthy an earful.

Grassley says, “Almost every town meeting I have, something comes up about the power grabs of EPA and the nonsensical regulations that they’re putting in place, particularly right now.” Rural electric cooperatives generate about 80 percent of their electricity from coal, Grassley says, and rural agriculture is a big user of that energy. “The EPA’s coming out with some anti-coal regulations almost with the philosophy that we’re going to shut down coal,” Grassley says, “maybe not today, maybe not this decade but we’re going to very dramatically encourage not using fossil fuels.”

Grassley also blasts the EPA’s efforts to much more closely regulate rivers and streams across the U.S., including small creeks in which he says you couldn’t even float a canoe. “Now, there’s a lot of other regulations that are going to come up but this meeting has been called, not just by me, but by all Republican members of the Agriculture Committee,” Grassley says, “so agriculture is going to get a lot of attention because EPA is really trying to harm American agriculture.”

Grassley’s meeting with McCarthy in Washington D.C. is scheduled for 3:15 P.M./Central time.


Rally calls for bringing children entering U.S. illegally to Iowa

Several hundred people gathered at a rally Monday night advocating for Iowa to offer refuge to thousands of children from Central America entering the country illegally at the southern border.

Wendy Vasquez of Des Moines was at the rally and plans to travel with nine other Iowans to Washington, D.C. later this month to protest the children’s detention and deportation. “Think about your own children. What if your children had no food, no future? Think about your children and what you would do for them. If it were them, would you welcome them in your country? Yes, you would,” She says.

Governor Terry Branstad said last week he has empathy for the children, but said they should not come to Iowa because they had entered the country illegally. The Democratic candidate for Governor, Jack Hatch, said it’s time to form a non-partisan “Iowa Coalition of Mercy” to discuss how the state can respond to the “humanitarian crisis” of unaccompanied kids from Central America who’re walking into the U.S.

The U.S. government estimates up to 90,000 unaccompanied children will enter U.S. this year.


Hatch has $183,000 cash on hand, compared to Branstad’s $4 million

Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor, continues to trail Republican Governor Terry Branstad in fundraising.

Hatch raised about $269,000 from the last week in May through the middle of July. Hatch’s campaign had about $183,000 in the bank on July 14. That compares to the $4 million in cash Republican Governor Terry Branstad reported in his campaign account at the end of the latest campaign disclosure reporting period.

Hatch has raised about $983,000 since he launched his campaign last summer and the Branstad campaign is ridiculing Hatch for failing to cross the million dollar mark, which Hatch said was a milestone he hoped to cross last December. Hatch’s campaign, in turn, blasts Branstad for accepting donations from Donald Trump and other New York and New Jersey donors.

From May 28 through July 14, Hatch received over $143,000 from 23 different political action committees representing labor groups. Branstad got $75,000 from three different PACS — one represents the Republican Governors Association and another is Wellmark’s PAC.

The single-largest individual contribution during the reporting period came from Josh Nelson of Spencer, the owner of a local phone company who wrote a $50,000 check to the Branstad campaign. John Smith, the CEO of a Cedar Rapids-based trucking company, wrote Branstad’s campaign a $25,000 check. Mark Falb of Dubuque, the executive of a textbook publishing company, also contributed $25,000. Bruce Rastetter, the agribusinessman who was Branstad’s number-one contributor in 2010, wrote the campaign a $10,000 check earlier this month.

Hatch’s single-largest donation from an individual was $10,000 and it came from Toni Urban of Des Moines, who runs a retail stationery shop in West Des Moines. Her husband, Tom Urban, is a former Des Moines mayor.

This morning, hours before the detailed reports were filed on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board’s website, Hatch declined to reveal his fundraising totals to reporters.

 “We’re going to have a campaign that’s going to work our plan and allow us to have a substantial election effort,” Hatch said during a statehouse news conference.

Hatch blasts Branstad for returning $1 million grant to promote solar energy in Iowa

Jack Hatch

Jack Hatch

Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor, says it is “disturbing” that Governor Branstad returned a federal grant that was to be used to find ways to help the solar energy industry grow in Iowa.

“Not to be controlled by the special interests of the utility companies that pressured his department to return the million dollar grant,” Hatch says. “That in itself shows the interests of this governor, not so much in really renewable energy, but protecting the larger corporations at the expense of the smaller producers and the individual homeowners that could benefit dramatically from this.”

Hatch says the solar industry is poised to make the same kind of economic impact on Iowa as wind turbines.

“The governor has backed away from this state’s ability to enter into the solar market by his refusal and his returning of a grant back to the Department of Energy that would be a modest approach to us beginning our solar energy capability,” Hatch says.

Email correspondence obtained by The Associated Press shows the State of Iowa returned the million dollar grant after Iowa utility companies complained about how the grant money would be used and insisted any reference to solar power’s benefits also include a list of its draw backs.

“This is something that’s going to make an enormous impact on the economy of this state and he’s just turned a blind eye because of the utility companies,” Hatch says.

A spokesman for Governor Branstad issued a written statement.

“Jack Hatch can continue to bloviate from the sidelines, but all Iowans know that the Branstad-Reynolds administration has fought to expand and protect American energy resources so that Iowans have cheaper costs at the pump, their homes and their businesses,” said Tommy Schultz, Branstad-Reynolds communications director.

Hatch is also praising a July 11th Iowa Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to expansion of solar power development in Iowa. The court ruled any church, school, city or other “non-taxable” entity can enter in “power purchase agreements” with solar power developers. It means a company can install solar panels on a public building and get paid for the electricity generated by the panels. Iowa’s two major utilities had challenged such deals, arguing that Iowa regulations gave MidAmerican and Alliant exclusive rights to sell electricity in defined areas of the state.

(This post was updated at 1:46 p.m. with additional information.)

If Obama doesn’t act, Perry may ‘fill the void’ and send Texas National Guard to border (AUDIO)

Rick Perry with former State Rep. Gary Blodgett & his wife, Sandy, of Clear Lake.

Rick Perry with former State Rep. Gary Blodgett & his wife, Sandy, of Clear Lake.

Texas Governor Rick Perry says he’s considering the “option” of sending Texas National Guard troops to secure his state’s southern border. Perry made his comments today during a lunch in the Clear Lake, Iowa VFW with 17 veterans and members of local law enforcement agencies.

“I think we’ve sent the message that if we don’t get the satisfaction that the federal government’s going to move and move quickly, then the State of Texas will, in fact, fill that void and address this issue,” Perry said.

Iowa’s Republican Congressman Steve King, an outspoken critic of what he calls “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, has called upon the governors of the four southern states that border Mexico to act on their own to send National Guard troops to secure the area. Perry, who discussed the issue with King Saturday night, said he first asked President Obama to send National Guard troops to the border in 2009.

“Securing that border with Mexico is not a Republican issue and it’s not a Democrat issue,” Perry said. “It’s an American issue and, hopefully, Washington and particularly the administration who has the ability to , unilaterally move pretty quick on this, if they would, but again, if they don’t, the citizens of Texas expect us to keep them safe and secure.”

AUDIO of Perry’s remarks & interaction with guests at VFW in Clear Lake, 25:00

Perry repeated his “pledge” during a late afternoon speech at a Cerro Gordo County Republican Party fundraiser.

“If the federal government does not do its constitutional duty to secure the southern border of the United States, the State of Texas will do it,” Perry said, as members of the audience rose to their feet in an ovation. “That is my promise to you. That is my pledge.”

Perry told both audiences that since the fall of 2008, illegal immigrants have committed 642,000 criminal acts in Texas, including 3000 homicides and more than 8000 sexual assaults.

“That’s why that border has to be secured, from my standpoint,” Perry said.

Perry told reporters after his luncheon meeting that the Obama Administration “has had plenty of time to respond,” but Perry didn’t reveal his own deadline for his own decision about ordering Texas National Guard troops to the border if the president doesn’t. Perry was asked about the border issue by one of the veterans who attended the luncheon in Clear Lake. Alan Atwood of Clear Lake, another veteran in the room, supported Perry in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses and Atwell hopes Perry runs again in 2016.

“Love the job he’s done as governor of Texas, hiring people from all over the United States, created a lot of jobs,” he said. “I think he’d make a great president.”

Jack Davis of Clear Lake is another Perry backer from 2012 who’d like to see Perry make another run for the White House.

“I think he speaks very straight,” he said. “I don’t think he runs around the bushes and I think he lays it out.”

Perry was the keynote speaker to a crowd of about 100 people who gathered for the GOP barbecue fundraiser at the Mason City Airport in Clear Lake late this afternoon. He touted all the Republican candidates on Iowa’s November ballot. Perry also referenced the video of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley referring to Republican Senator Chuck Grassley as a farmer who could wind up as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee if Democrats lose the senate. Perry took a black marker and wrote the word “farmer” across a Grassley poster on the wall.

“Don’t diss my farmers,” Perry said. “That’s the message we’re going to send in November, alright?”

AUDIO of Perry’s speech at the Cerro Gordo County GOP fundraiser, 12:00

Perry also became the latest in a string of Republican politicians who’ve posed for a photo with a campaign sign for Joni Ernst, the GOP candidate who is currently on two weeks of active duty with her Iowa National Guard unit. The photos are being tweeted on Ernst’s campaign Twitter account.

(This post was updated at 7:58 p.m. with additional information.)

Former lieutenant governor criticizes Branstad response on unaccompanied Central American kids now in U.S.

A woman who served two terms as Iowa’s ag secretary is joining those who’re criticizing Terry Branstad for saying none of the unaccompanied children who’ve entered the country illegally should be sent to Iowa. Patt Judge, a Democrat, also served one term as Iowa’s lieutenant governor.

“Iowa has always welcomed people in need,” Judge says, “and whether that is in the form of medical assistance, food assistance or monetary assistance of some type, as individuals, as non-profits, as a state — whatever, I think this deserves a look and not just a closed door.”

Branstad said Monday he has “empathy” for the kids who’ve crossed into the U.S. along the southern border, but bringing them here would send the wrong message about entering the country illegally.

RGA chair defends tone of ads running against Hatch

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (left), and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (left), and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

The chairman of the Republican Governors Association is defending the ads his group is running against Jack Hatch, the Democrat who’s running for governor. A reporter asked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about the tone of the ads during a news conference yesterday in Marion, Iowa.

“We have an obligation to let the people know about the record of Governor Branstad’s opponent. He’s probably the only one who thinks its negative,” Christie said. “It’s truthful and, you know, If he’s unhappy with his record, he should have done something about it before he developed it.”

Hatch’s campaign manager uses the words “misleading” and “false” to describe the ads, which suggest Hatch may have conflicts of interest in his work as a property developer and long-time service as a state senator. Christie brushes the complaints aside.

“My job as chairman of the RGA is to make sure that the people of Iowa and any other state where we participate have a complete picture of these picture of these candidates,” Christie told reporters, “and we will do what we need to do to make sure they have a complete picture.”

Hatch’s campaign manager says Christie’s using “New Jersey-style politics” in the ads to help “bail out another legally and ethically challenged career politician.” Branstad and Christie campaigned together yesterday. Tickets to a private fundraiser in the morning for the Republican Governors Association cost $25,000 each.