Two of the Democrats running for governor traded jabs over their past jobs during a joint appearance this weekend. During a question-and-answer session at the Iowa Broadcast News Association’s annual meeting, Democrats Mike Blouin and Chet Culver each raised questions about the other’s past work record.
“Chet, I’m delighted to see you’ve changed your position on the packing industry…because I know you spent two years as a paid lobbyist for them and now you’re taking shots at many of the things that they’re doing to people in terms of the equivalent of 21st century slave labor,” Blouin said. “I know you’ll say that wasn’t you, that was someone you worked for, but that was your signature’s on the lobbyist registration form saying you are the lobbyist for the Iowa Beef Processors.” Blouin said you can only assume, by reading the signed document, that Culver was lobbyist for I.B.P.
Afterwards, Blouin labeled I.B.P. a bad corporate citizen. “I.B.P. was among the worst employers this state ever had,” Blouin said. “They received the largest OSHA fine in the history of OSHA. They constantly advocated for legislation that was anti-farmer.”
Culver told reporters he worked for a lobbyist who had IBP as a client. “I never lobbied for Iowa Beef (Processors),” Culver said. “This campaign really needs to be about the future….and it’s unfortunate that some candidates choose the more desperate attacks instead of talking about their own plan to lead the state forward.” Culver said the period Blouin’s questioned came when Culver was 22 years old and just coming back from college to learn “more about state government.”
Yet Culver, too, was culling through Blouin’s past. “There are some very good questions about (Blouin’s) lobbying record,” Culver said. Culver charged that when Blouin was head of the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce he did not register as in favor or opposed to an increase in the minimum wage.
During the debate, Blouin cited his vote in the 1970s, when he was a member of Congress, that raised the national mininum wage — and Blouin pulled a pen from his pocket for a little show-and-tell. “This is a pen from the President of the United States that was used at the bill signing of the 46 percent increase in the minimum wage when I was a member of congress. It was given to me because of the role I played in making it happen,” Blouin said. “I think my credentials are pretty real…I’ve been able to make it happen before. I can make it happen again.”
Blouin added this moments later: “When 90 percent of labor endorses me…if they don’t have a problem with that issue, I don’t know why Chet still thinks he should have one,” Blouin said.
State Representative Ed Fallon of Des Moines gently chided his two competitors for their nit-picking. “You know if we all had to account for everything we did 25 (or) 30 years ago, none of us would be fit to run. That’s not a personal confession of any kind. It’s just a general observation,” Fallon said, as his competitors and the reporters in the room laughed.
Fallon said his “first loves” are music and farming, but he’s pursuing a career in politics because he wants to make a difference in people’s lives. Sioux City engineer Sal Mohamed also appeared at the forum.