The Not-So-Fair, Fair Debate forGovernor’s Race

The Not-So-Fair, Fair Debate forGovernor’s Race

Iowa Party Candidate is Excluded from Tax Payer Funded, State Run Media’s August 14th Gubernatorial Debate at the State Fair

IPTV to Discontinue Tradition of Equal Air Time for Non-Major Party Candidates

Non-State Owned Media Fails to Report on the Polk County Machine’s Fixing of the Race

Iowa Public Television is a taxpayer funded institution with a responsibility to Iowa’s citizens and taxpayers above any other motive. IPTV operates: KDIN-DT Channel 11 – Des Moines, KBIN- Channel DT 32 – Council Bluffs, DHIN- Channel DT 36 – Red Oak, KIIN- Channel DT 12 – Iowa City, KQIN- Channel DT 36 – Davenport, KRIN- Channel DT 32 – Waterloo, KSIN- Channel DT 27 – Sioux City, KTIN- Channel DT 21 – Fort Dodge, KYIN- Channel DT 24 – Mason City and translators, Channel 18 – Ottumwa, Channel 28 – Fort Madison, Channel 44 – Keokuk, Channel 24 – Keosauqua, Channel 43 – Rock Rapids, Channel 26 – Sibley, Channel 28 – Decorah and Channel 39 – Lansing, Iowa.

Every four years IPTV historically has featured the two major party gubernatorial candidates in a September or October debate. If other candidates have qualified for the gubernatorial ballot but have not met criteria presented to campaigns well ahead of the debate IPTV has historically excluded them from the main debate but offered the non-major party candidates airtime to present their views and solutions to IPTV viewers.

I know, because four years ago that’s what IPTV did when I was an independent candidate for governor.

While this is not ideal for non-major party candidates it is a viable alternative especially since IPTV is a non-profit, government agency financed by the taxpayers and operated on behalf of Iowa’s citizens and taxpayers.

Until now!

This year IPTV scheduled a summer gubernatorial debate, ahead of the deadline to file to run for governor. Meanwhile, IPTV did not make contact or provide details to the gubernatorial campaigns that qualified for the ballot prior to the debate. Additionally, IPTV established a criteria for inclusion that would be possible for non-major party candidates to meet, to be included for a fall debate… but totally impossible for independent candidates to meet for the August 14, 2014 debate.

Independent candidates for governor were not even allowed to file with the Secretary of State’s office to be on the ballot prior to July 28, 2014. Our campaign filed on July 29, 2014 and certified by the Secretary of State’s office that morning.

Despite qualifying nearly three weeks before the deadline the IPTV criteria disqualified us from the debate. First, I am not the nominee of a political party recognized under state law and two, there have been no independent public opinion polls.

So despite meeting other criteria such as making the ballot, having clearly stated public positions and receiving media coverage in nearly every newspaper in Iowa and nearly every television station in Iowa, and having previously received support in every county, every house dsitrict, every senate district and nearly every Iowa precinct (1720 out of 1774) I would not, even with $25 million in my account, meet IPTV’s August 14, 2014 debate requirements.

Even if I had commissioned a professional public opinion poll it would not have been independent and, therefore, I would have been excluded from the debate.

Yet in past gubernatorial cycles Iowa’s taxpayer financed, state-run media have made time available on the airwaves for candidates officially certified for the gubernatorial ballot. This year, IPTV’s executive director, Molly Phillips, has made it very clear that IPTV has no intention of providing any coverage of non-major party candidates.

This decision from an executive director, hand picked by the Polk County dominated IPTV board, is not surprising.

Iowa’s boards and commissions should truly represent the interests of all Iowans, not just those connected to the Polk County Machine. Yet the IPTV Board, like other boards and commissions in Iowa, consists of a majority from Polk County.

When we look at the communities IPTV serves, how do we reconcile that with the fact five of the nine Iowa Public Broadcasting Board members are from Polk County? How can we trust that make up of the board?

We even saw a similar assault on the Iowa Public Radio Board in 2013 when the Branstad administration (and signed off on by Senate Democrats) replaced former Lt. Governor Art Neu of Carroll, with a former Polk County legislator.

Over the past year we have witnessed scandal after scandal within the Branstad Administration. Scandals where his cronies and contributors have replaced various public servants not loyal to his agenda. And, Democrats in control of the Senate went along, until the scandals became public. Only now is the “loyal opposition” making noise.

This type of oversight, however, would have required a truly independent government where checks and balances and varied interests exist. Instead we find Iowa’s governance more intertwined and operated on behalf of vested interests than at any time in recent Iowa history.

And nothing illustrates this bipartisan fix more than the 2014 gubernatorial race. Governor Branstad’s popularity has waned, and his health has raised speculation that his job now is to win the race, and then hand it over to his Lt. Governor.

A viable Democrat, especially with the current viable Congressional slate, would have presented the five term governor a real challenge that would have forced him to campaign more vigorously, and likely would have over taxed him. Even in the 2010 campaign he had his “fervor has not waned” moment and during one of the debates with Gov. Culver he was lost until Gov. Culver rescued him.

He needed an easy fight and an opponent who would not test him. Enter Sen. Jack Hatch, a non-viable candidate from day one. Most important, Jack Hatch is business partners with Gov. Branstad’s biggest contributor Bruce Rastetter, now head of the Board of Regents as a payoff for his vast contributions to the Governor’s 2010 campaign.

Historically the Republican and Democrat can be reasonably assumed to want to get elected. Although they may have a few donors in common there is typically at least the appearance of separation between the two camps.

In a Hatch v Branstad race, Bruce Rastetter is going to win either way. And so, Hatch’s entry into the race not only puts the fix in for a Branstad re-election, it has helped Rastetter’s other candidates, such as Joni Ernst, become more viable.

From the very beginning of this gubernatorial cycle the campaign has been fixed by the bi-partisan Polk County machine. In the Des Moines Register’s December Iowa Poll Jack Hatch was getting thoroughly trounced by Bob Krause despite having a huge financial advantage. However, the Register, (the official newsletter of the Polk County Machine), would not even acknowledge Krause’s campaign despite their own published polling data.

When Tyler Olson dropped out of the race, Jack Hatch donated six figures to his own campaign’s war chest – proceeds from his partnership with Rastetter and profits earned from rules he wrote as a Senator that benefitted his private businesses.

His demonstrated willingness to put in such a large amount of money was key to scaring off Democrats who would have been much more viable against Gov. Branstad but who could not compete with Hatch-Rastetter business profits.

Hatch, the handpicked candidate of the Polk County machine – a bi-partisan alliance that dominates boards and commissions, the judiciary, state governance and auxillary organizations such as the Iowa Association of School Boards and formerly CIETC – had clear negatives that diminished not only his chances to win, but would hurt the entire Democratic ticket.

No Democrat has been elected governor of Iowa in the modern political era without African American support in communities such as Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport and Cedar Rapids. Yet Hatch, a known racist who has been called the Donald Sterling of Iowa for his vast inner city property holdings and his frequent use of hateful racist language, including a statehouse tirade where he repeatedly used the n-word until a legislative aide got in his face, is not going to turn out the African American vote.

While the major media has failed to report on Hatch’s very public hateful, and incendiary tirade – one where he dropped the n-word again and again on the floor of the legislature (not a privately taped conversation such as the one Donald Sterling had), that fact has not been lost on key African American voters statewide.

Senator Hatch has been called out repeatedly since by various African American leaders statewide including the keynote speaker at the state’s largest Martin Luther King Celebration in January of 2014.

Hatch’s official statehouse news conference apology and meetings with various African American leaders didn’t help when Hatch literally stated “this is a teachable moment and I learned.”

The very suggestion by the nominee of the Democratic party for governorthat he didn’t know it was wrong to drop the n-bomb over, and over nearly 25 years after he first entered the legislature strained credibility.

The failure was not Hatch’s alone, however. Democrats in the legislature did not censure or sanction Hatch. The Democratic party did not censure or sanction him. When asked by the President of the Black Ministerial Alliance, a man who grew up in Mississippi with the power and virulence of the n-word, why they hadn’t reported on candidate Hatch’s racist statehouse tirade, a Des Moines Register editor wrote back – it was just a little racist language.

Then again the Des Moines Register and other major Iowa media has not reported on the fact that Governor Branstad’s biggest contributor and political ally is Jack Hatch’s business partner, a man who helped Hatch make the hundreds of thousands he’s donated to his campaign.

When the possibility existed another Democrat might enter the race Jack Hatch was everywhere. Now with less than 90 days to go Sen. Hatch is not even running a viable campaign – where are the yard signs, the commercials, the rallies?

The fix is in. And it doesn’t even look good.

I used to box. It’s a corrupt sport. Fixing fights is a part of the time honored tradition. The rule of the fix is just make it look good.

The Branstad-Hatch-Rastetter fix doesn’t even look good. What’s worse is that we now have agencies like IPTV, financed by taxpayers, joining in.

Not only did the rules of this debate make it impossible for an independent to participate but Ms. Phillips, a political appointee of the Polk County dominated Iowa Public Broadcasting Board, has made it clear the IPTV tradition of allowing independents air time has been ended.

Why is IPTV being allowed to abuse the public trust, on the public dime?

It is too late to be included in the debate but it is only proper and good governance that IPTV continue its tradition and let Iowans hear from her other official gubernatorial candidate.

Media inquires can contact 515-770-1218

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