The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a Des Moines Democrat’s second drunken driving conviction does not disqualify him from seeking a seat in the Iowa Senate.
Former State Senator Tony Bisignano is the man who has the second offense “Operating While Intoxicated” conviction on his record. Bisignano’s opponent in June’s Democratic Primary for a Des Moines-area senate seat is former State Representative Ned Chiodo. Chiodo argued Bisignano’s OWI — which is an aggravated misdemeanor — is the kind of “infamous crime” described in the State Constitution as a disqualification from serving in public office.
The Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling concludes Bisignano is eligible to serve as a state senator and eligible to run in the June Primary. If the court had ruled Bisignano’s conviction made him ineligible, that ruling would have tossed Iowa’s election system into turmoil. Thousands of Iowans with an aggravated misdeamnor conviction on their record likely would have been declared ineligible to vote.
Justice David Wiggins authored a dissent. Wiggins argues the decision could lead the court into “uncharted waters” when its presented with other cases revolving around the “infamous crimes” phrase in the state constitution. Another justice offered a concurring opinion, supporting the court’s decision to allow Bisignano to run, but offering other reasons for arriving at that conclusion.