October 30, 2014

Ernst campaign RV in for repairs after collision with deer


The campaign RV of Joni Ernst is now in the shop for repairs after hitting a deer.

There was a collision last night between Joni Ernst’s campaign RV and a deer.

Ernst, the Iowa Republican Party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate, was traveling in the RV with Arizona Senator John McCain and a couple of campaign staffers.

The deer and the RV collided on the highway between Bloomfield and Keosauqua. No one inside was injured.

The larger-than-life photo of Ernst and the map of Iowa on the exterior of the RV weren’t marred, but the vehicle is in the shop today for repairs.



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.”

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.


Hatch rejects Branstad’s assertion he’s run an ‘inept’ campaign

Jack Hatch speaking at a campaign stop.

Jack Hatch speaking at a campaign stop.

Democratic challenger Jack Hatch is taking issue with Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s assertion earlier this week that Hatch has run an “inept” campaign.

“We’ve run a very strong campaign all along,” Hatch told reporters Tuesday night.

Branstad’s campaign in June claimed the web address for www.hatchvernon.com before Hatch’s campaign did and set up the website to criticize Hatch and Vernon as big spenders.

“I mean, it shows how inept his campaign is. His camp is so inept they couldn’t even get The Des Moines Register’s endorsement, let’s face it,” Branstad told reporters Monday, laughing.

The Des Moines Register endorsed Branstad in 2010, but this week the newspaper’s editorial board announced neither Branstad nor Hatch would get its backing in 2014. Hatch rejects the idea his campaign should be counted out because he’s raised far less money than Branstad.

“We’ve raised $2 million. He’s raised $10 million. He has another $5 million from outside sources from big money,” Hatch told reporters Tuesday night. “So if you’re judging this on money, if this is the threshold of politics that we’ve come to, then nobody will have a chance in the future, because Republicans are always going to have the big, special interest money.”

And Hatch discounts the polls that show him trailing Branstad by double-digits.

“We believe in the old style,” Hatch said. “People are going to now start making their decisions.”

Hatch is making campaign stops today in Mason City, Algona, Fort Dodge, Webster City, Iowa Falls and Waverly.

Quinnipiac Poll shows Ernst ‘inching ahead’ of Braley, 49-45

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

A new poll of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race released this morning shows Republican Joni Ernst with a slight lead over Democrat Bruce Braley.

“The latest Quinnipiac Poll finds that Joni Ernst is inching ahead,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “She has a four point lead over Bruce Braley which is slightly outside the poll’s margin of error, but it’s still a very close race and anything can happen in the final week.”

Five percent of those surveyed were undecided. Ernst got the backing of 49 percent of those polled. Braley got 45 percent support.

“Certainly one would rather be in Joni Ernst’s shoes this morning than Bruce Braley, but with a week to go, anything can happen,” Brown says.

Ernst is leading among independent voters by nine points.

“And that’s a key to victory in a state like Iowa, which is a swing state with the two parties tightly bunched together,” Brown says. “…If Ms. Ernst wins by about 10 points among independents, she’ll be difficult to beat.”

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from last Wednesday through Sunday has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Nine percent of voters said they might change their mind between now and Election Day. The Quinnipiac Poll also found Governor Branstad with a 19 point lead over Democratic challenger Jack Hatch.

Senator Grassley examines IRS tactics in Iowa restaurant case

Chuck Grassley (file photo)

Chuck Grassley (file photo)

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s looking into the federal government’s use of civil forfeiture laws after learning how the IRS seized the bank account of a restaurant owner in northwest Iowa.

The Republican served on the IRS Restructuring Commission, which sought to end the agency’s “harassment” of small businesses back in 1998.

“Well, here we are 15 years later and we’re still messing around with the same problems,” Grassley says. In May 2013, the IRS seized almost $33,000 from Carole Hinders, who has operated Mrs. Lady’s Mexican Food in Arnolds Park for 38 years. The restaurant only accepts cash and the IRS used civil forfeiture to seize Hinders’ bank account, claiming by making small deposits, she was evading a federal law that requires banks to report cash deposits greater than $10,000.

Officials with the IRS have responded to Grassley’s inquiry about the matter. “They say that they’re going to reconsider their policy and maybe make some changes,” Grassley says. The Washington, DC-based Institute for Justice is helping Hinders with her case. The law firm reports federal law enforcement agencies — using civil forfeiture — can take cash, cars and other property without charging the property owner with a crime.

Grassley says the IRS plays a role in fighting money laundering and other criminal activity, but it should treat business owners fairly.

“Maybe the IRS is smart enough to correct their own silly actions that they’re taking, but whatever the case is, we’ve got to be on top of the IRS once again,” Grassley says.

The 67-year-old Hinders, who describes her last year as “Hell,” has borrowed money and used credit cards to pay bills and keep her restaurant in business. The New York Times recently featured a story about Hinders’ plight on its front page.