A photo featuring a lobbyist shaking Governor Terry Branstad’s hand last Friday has sparked outrage among opponents of the bill Branstad signed moments before the picture was taken.
Branstad’s signature on the bill immediately reduced negotiating rights for government workers. AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan leads a union representing 40,000 government workers in Iowa and this morning he said it was “disgusting” to see Branstad and the lobbyist for Americans for Prosperity smiling in that photo.
“That said volumes to me as to who was behind and pulling the strings for the passage of this law,” Homan said.
Americans for Prosperity was founded and financed by Oklahoma billionaires known as the Koch brothers. Drew Klein, the state director for Americans for Prosperity, posted the picture on his Twitter account and wrote that he was honored to witness the bill signing. Branstad signed the bill in a private ceremony and Klein was the only lobbyist in the room.
“I really don’t even know him, so it’s not that big a deal as far as I’m concerned,” Branstad told reporters this morning during his weekly news conference.
The governor said he poses for lots of pictures with people he doesn’t know.
“I try to be very accommodating with people and so there were some people that wanted a picture with me and so I accommodated that,” Branstad said. “That’s not a big deal as far as I’m concerned. I do that for people all the time.”
After Klein posted his photo with Branstad online, State Senator Jeff Danielson tweeted that Klein was a “super PAC punk.” Klein responded during a Sunday appearance on WHO TV’s “Insiders” program.
“As a state dirctor, I do an awful lot of fundraising for somebody that supposedly was a suitcase of cash from the Koch brothers and told to implement some agenda,” Klein said.
Klein said the bill Branstad signed is “truly historic” and he rejects the charge Democrats made, that he had a major hand in writing the legislation.
“They’ve certainly give me some new career aspirations that I may one day be as effective as they believe I am,” Klein said.
Another group called Priorities for Iowa that’s run by Governor Branstad’s former communications director ran advertising for the bill. During debate of the bill, a Democratic senator read a list of donors to that group, including hedge fund managers, the owner of a coal company and World Wrestling Federation executive Linda McMahon who President Trump has asked to serve in his cabinet.
Photo courtesy of Drew Klein.