A spokesman for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement sees hopeful signs in the group’s push to get better oversight of groups which lobby the Iowa Legislature. Adam Mason is state policy organizing director for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “We were encouraged by the House Ethics Committee review today. They were very thorough in their review of our ethics complaint,” Mason says.
“They acknowledged that not only the Iowa Pharmacy Association had filed their function report late, but a number of other groups had also done that and that without our complaint they would not have had the authority to review these late filings.” The Ethics Committee in the Iowa House today decided to send a letter to the lobbying group, outlining its failure to disclose details of its legislative reception in February until news reports of the evening were linked to a lawmaker’s drunken driving arrest.
But the panel stopped short of issuing any sort of reprimand of the Iowa Pharmacy Association. Representative Kerry Burt, a Democrat from Waterloo, pleaded guilty in August to drunken driving charges filed against him in February. Burt attended an Iowa Pharmacy Association reception in Des Moines that evening and was arrested early the next morning in Ankeny.
Five months later, the Pharmacy Association filed its required financial report about its reception after news reports revealed more details of Burt’s evening. Financial reports are to be filed within five days of a reception at which legislators are invited guests. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed an ethics complaint about the lapse.
Mason says they hoped to draw attention to the legislature’s failure to properly oversee lobbying groups that sponsor receptions for legislators and they’re encouraged by changes legislators are considering. “At CCI we still believe the first thing that needs to happen is oversight and enforcement of these reports needs to be returned to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board,” Mason says.
Earlier this summer the Iowa Senate’s Ethics Committee voted to take no action on the complaint against the Pharmacy Association, saying by the time of their meeting the Pharmacy Association had filed its paperwork and had complied with the law. Representative Burt pleaded guilty to drunken driving in August, was given a deferred judgment and is on probation for a year. Burt, who lives in Waterloo, faces other legal troubles as a state audit found he was among the parents who fudged their home address on school paperwork in order to avoid paying tuition for his children to attend the University of Northern Iowa’s Price Laboratory School