(This story was updated at 10:48 a.m.)
A state senator is accusing the state’s attorney general of hypocrisy.
If Attorney General Tom Miller acts to remove from office a county recorder who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, Senator Merlin Bartz says Miller should remove the Mitchell County Attorney from office, too. Bartz held a news conference this morning and handed reporters a published statement from Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk — as Walk said he would not enforce the state smoking ban.
"I don’t believe that Attorney General Tom Miller has initiated proceedings to remove Mitchell County prosecutor Mark Walk (from) office for refusing to prosecute the smoking ban which was passed," Bartz said.
Bartz is circulating petitions which urge county recorders to refuse to issue same-sex couples a marriage license on Monday, the day the Iowa Supreme Court ruling which legalized gay marriage goes into effect. The attorney general has advised county recorders that the Supreme Court ruling has the force of law and they can be removed from office if they refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
"I want the attorney general to stop the hypocrisy," Bartz said, "and if he’s truly going to go after county recorders next Monday, then he should be going after other elected county officials that are ignoring provisions of their duties and laws, too."
Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk issued a quick response.
"I have not refused to enforce the smoking ban," Walk wrote in an email, adding that he had assisted the Mitchell County Department of Health in enforcing the ban. "…I have stated that in certain situations I felt that the law was not proper and would not enforce it in those situations; however, that situation has never occurred. To the best of my knowledge, Mitchell County is 100 percent in compliance with the law. My stand was largely symbolic. It was to bring attention to a law that was influenced by the tremendous power of the gambling industry."
A spokesman for Attorney General Tom Miller was not immediately available to comment.