Ethics complaint filed against Secretary of State Matt Schultz

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DES MOINES – The Iowa Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, following his use of public resources to campaign against Jon Huntsman.

“We urge the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board to fully investigate Secretary Schultz’s use of public resources for political purposes,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky. “If his actions were permissible, state resources could be made available to candidates for federal office on an unlimited basis.”

On Monday, June 6th, Schultz used his office to send a press release attacking Jon Huntsman, who has formed a presidential exploratory committee. By attacking specific policy positions held by Huntsman, the Iowa Democratic Party believes this is in violation of section 68A.505 of the Iowa Code.

“Given that the primary role of the Secretary of State’s Office is to administer elections, which should be conducted fairly without preferential treatment to a candidate, I hope the politicization of this office is fully addressed,” added Dvorsky.

Below is the full text of the complaint, sent today to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board
Megan Tooker
510 East 12th, Suite 1A
Des Moines, IA 50319

Ms. Tooker,

I am writing to file an official complaint against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

On Monday, June 6, 2011, the Secretary of State’s office published a press release, titled “Huntsman Not Ready for the Big Dance.” This press release was distributed using state resources and is featured on the Secretary of State website. The statements made within the release by Secretary of State Schultz are of a highly political nature and clearly intended to impact public opinion of Jon Huntsman, who has formed a presidential exploratory committee.

This activity is in direct violation of Iowa Code § 68A.505, which states:

The state and the governing body of a county, city, or other political subdivision of the state shall not expend or permit the expenditure of public moneys for political purposes, including expressly advocating the passage or defeat of a ballot issue.

While Huntsman is not a “candidate” for state or local office in Iowa, he is clearly a candidate in the caucus process, which, while operated by the two major political parties, functions as Iowa’s Presidential primary. If his actions were permissible, state employees could make state resources available to candidates for federal office on an unlimited basis.

Instead of simply encouraging Huntsman to campaign in Iowa and bring his message to caucus goers, Secretary of State Schultz chose to highlight Huntsman’s positions on a wide range of issues. Many of these positions are unpopular among some Republican caucus goers. This makes the purpose of the press release inherently political as Secretary Schultz is advocating against Huntsman’s candidacy with public resources.

Given that the primary role of the Secretary of State’s Office is to administer elections, which should be conducted fairly without preferential treatment to a candidate, it is my hope that you investigate this matter and halt the politicization of this office.

Sincerely,
Sue Dvorsky
Chair, Iowa Democratic Party

 

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