Iowa’s Public Safety Commissioner faced tough questions at the statehouse today (Tuesday). Commissioner Kevin Techau apologized to legislators for what he called a “misunderstanding.” Techau’s under fire for telling a newspaper reporter he’d review the State Patrol’s policies that keep large sections of police reports secret if the newspaper donated money to his agency. Techau says he made the statement, but feels it was taken out of context. “I regret the misunderstanding and my failure to communicate properly, and I apologize for causing this to be construed in that way,” Techau testified. Techau says he did not mean to suggest he is unwilling to review the policy without the newspaper’s money in hand, but only that such a review would be expensive. “I apologize for not being a better communicator in this instance,” Techau says. Yet Techau, who constantly fidgeted during a question and answer session with legislators, seemed to dig himself in deeper as he was asked repeatedly to explain himself. “We have a number of challenges budgetwise, as we all do, and realistically, if someone wanted to work with us, we certainly would do it,” Techau told lawmakers. Techau says he didn’t go into the meeting looking for money for his agency, but “it occured” to him during the discussion that a “contribution” might be a possible solution. But Representative Scott Raecker, a republican from Urbandale, says Techau improperly suggested that money needs to change hands before department policy changes. “There is no law prohibiting this, and I think it’s important that we do prohibit it. It would be no different than a legislator saying ‘You know, if you make a contribution to…the State of Iowa, then I’ll introduce your bill,'” Raecker says. Raecker plans to sponsor legislation that would make it illegal to suggest something like that. Anyone involved with state government would be barred from soliciting a donation that will then influence a vote, a judgement or a decision if Raecker’s bill becomes law. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board is reviewing Techau’s comments to determine if he violated existing state law.
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