The Republican candidate for attorney general says she’d assign some of the attorneys in the Iowa Department of Justice to “openness” duty. Brenna Findley is challenging Democrat Tom Miller, the current attorney general, in the November election.
“I would dedicate a team of attorneys within the attorney general’s office to respond to phone calls and e-mails and visits from Iowans who have concerns about violations of the Open Meetings and Open Records Law,” Findley says. “I think that’s important to clean up state government.”
Findley says the current attorney general hasn’t done enough to help Iowans who’ve run into problems with government officials who deny them access to public documents or who violate the state’s Open Meetings Law. “He has a consumer protection division,” Findley says. “But if someone has a question about the Open Records, Open Meetings Law, I have heard from people as I’ve traveled the state that they haven’t gotten an answer out of the attorney general’s office.”
Attorney General Tom Miller says the State Ombudsman’s Office in the legislative branch of state government has taken the lead on Open Meetings, Open Records complaints. “We’ve stood ready now, for well over a year, whenever the Ombudsman’s Office found a need for any kind of litigation or enforcement in court to do that,” Miller says. Miller asked legislators to provide more money to hire a full-time attorney and a paralegal.
“But the legislature didn’t fund it,” Miller says. “But, you know, what happens now is the Ombudsman’s Office is sort of at the front of it and they do a good job. They get most of the complaints. We get some of them and if the Ombudsman’s Office feels there should be legal enforcement they refer it to us and we’re prepared to do that.” Miller has a deputy attorney general who handles those cases today.
Findley has taken a leave of absence from her job as chief of staff for Congressman Steve King and has been campaigning for attorney general for the past four months. “At this point, I have raised seven times more money than incumbent Tom Miller has in 2010,” Findley says. Findley raised $124,000 so far this year, compared to the $15,000 Miller raised for his reelection effort. Miller has a bit more cash-on-hand, though, with $105,000 in the bank from previous fundraising efforts.
Findley’s latest campaign finance report showed she had $95,000 on hand for the fall campaign.