Governor Branstad says he has no qualms about appointing someone to the Iowa Supreme Court who contributed to his campaign. One of the nine nominees for the three openings on the court contributed to Branstad’s 2010 campaign.
“I think that’s great. Listen, I wish more of them had contributed,” Branstad joked this morning at his weekly news conference. “I know judges can’t…contribute, but if you’re a private citizen you have a right to contribute and participate in the political process, so I see no problem with that whatsoever.”
Thomas Waterman, a lawyer from Pleasant Valley, donated $7,500 to Branstad’s campaign and another $250 to Brenna Findley, the Republican candidate for attorney general who is now Branstad’s legal counsel. Branstad has said Findley will sit in on the private interviews the governor plans to conduct with each of the nine nominees for the Iowa Supreme Court.
Sioux City lawyer John Gray, another candidate for the high court, donated to Branstad’s opponent, Chet Culver. Branstad knows several of the people who’ve been nominated for the openings on the court. “We’re going to take a very thoughtful and I think deliberative, in-depth approach towards this. This is a very important decision,” Branstad said.
“And I only have nine to choose from. I can’t choose the one I think’s the best. I’ve got to choose three that I think are the best from the nine that I have to choose from. That’s the system, but we’re going to do the best we can under the circumstances.”
During his weekly news conference at the statehouse, a reporter asked Branstad who he had wanted to appoint. “I’m not going to go there,” Branstad said, laughing before adding, “because there’s a lot of really capable people. I mentioned the fact there were several women, some of which had served in my administration previously or been appointed by me previously to positions. They didn’t get nominated, ok? Sorry about that.” A week ago Branstad lamented the fact that of the nine nominees, only one was a woman.
On another topic, Branstad dismissed critics who say it is hypocritical for his granddaughter to be enrolled in free preschool when Branstad himself advocates ending state-paid preschool for all four-year-olds. The Des Moines Register reported on Friday that Branstad’s son, Eric, signed his four-year-old daughter up for state-paid preschool in the West Des Moines School District.
“Well, first of all, I think that’s inappropriate to really talk about family,” Branstad said this morning during his weekly news conference. “I’ve, instead, focused on policy and I’ve recommended what I think is fair policy.”
Branstad has recommended providing over $40 million worth of subsidies, or vouchers, to Iowa parents who cannot afford preschool tuition, although Branstad has not yet revealed what income parents would have to earn to qualify. That plan will be released next week.
“But I think it’s inappropriate to talk about my grandchildren or anybody else’s children with regard to that because I don’t have a say in their decisions and I think indeed they should live by the laws and the rules like anybody else,” Branstad said. “But, you know, I guess that’s politics.”
Branstad has argued since the 2010 campaign that parents who can afford to pay preschool tuition should do so, because the state can’t afford to provide free preschool to all four-year-olds.
Listen to the entire news conference here: Branstad 2-7 23:23 MP3