With a vote scheduled for Tuesday in the Iowa House on the future of the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines, House Speaker Christopher Rants gave his 50 Republican House colleagues this advice for how to spend their weekend. “We told our folks to go home this weekend and talk to their constituents…and ask them what they think (about TouchPlay),” Rants said Monday.
Rants, though, didn’t go home to Sioux City but flew to South Carolina to go golfing at Myrtle Beach with a group he described as friends. “Some legislators, some people who are not legislators, some people who have no affiliation with this place and some folks who work in the rotunda,” Rants said. That means lobbyists.
One of the lobbyists is employed by Ameristar — one of the casinos pressuring lawmakers to ban the TouchPlay machines. But Rants says the subject of TouchPlay never came up. “Not while we were playing golf,” Rants says. “(We talked about) sand traps and birdies and water.”
Rants flew commercial and paid $1,600 to the Myrtle Beach Golf Club to cover his lodging and greens fees and the tab for two of his non-statehouse buddies who went along. Rants says the golfing trip is a yearly tradition for him and he scheduled it for this past weekend long before he knew the House would be debating TouchPlay on Tuesday.