I first want to say congratulations to my friend Kim Lehman who is leaving Iowa Right to Life as their director to work for the John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute in Iowa City. Kim, I appreciate your dedication to the unborn, and am excited about this opportunity for you to raise awareness about adult stem cell research. Caffeinated Thoughts readers have been blessed to have Kim guest contribute here (and I would love to have her as a regular contributor) and I’ve also had the opportunity to be on the radio with her as well discussing health care reform.
So full disclosure, I’m biased. I am a Kim Lehman fan. For those of you who may not be aware Kim is also Iowa’s Republican National Committeewoman.
In light of this news I was surprised that an episode from 2008 was being rehashed by Krusty Konservative an anonymous blogger who posts at The Iowa Republican. The episode in question was when Kim Lehman, in her role as Director of Iowa Right to Life, sent an email to her constituency calling out Mariannette Miller-Meeks out as someone who is not pro-life. This was before the general election in the Iowa 2nd District Congressional Race, and Miller-Meeks ended up losing to Loesbeck. Since Kim was the Republican National Committeewoman for Iowa, the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee censured her since she didn’t support the Republican candidate in the race.
I know Kim and her passion for defending the unborn. I’ve been able to be around her in a variety of settings. I believe that she is a woman of integrity and was happy to give her my vote at the Polk County GOP Convention to send her further on. She would not send a letter out like that if Miller-Meeks was truly pro-life. I think that perhaps the State Central Committee needs to consider a couple of facts here.
1. As president of Iowa Right to Life, which is a non-partisan advocacy group, she is not to be partisan in that role.
2. Since Iowa Right to Life is (as they describe themselves) “a diverse group united in our value for human life and the common belief in each individual’s fundamental right to be treated with dignity and respect.” It would stand to reason that she, in her role as the president, to criticize any candidate that is not pro-life regardless of party. I applaud her for that.
For her to blindly support a GOP candidate would mean that she wasn’t fulfilling her role at Iowa Right to Life, and that would be inappropriate. She did it in that capacity. So basically the State Central Committee has a beef with her doing her job.
Censuring Kim Lehman is an example of what is not the way forward if the Iowa GOP desires to make any headway in the next election cycle.
The censure vote was 8-7 with two members of the committee being absent. I stand by what I said then. It was a horrible move by the State Central Committee, but I thought we’ve moved past this. Evidently not, as Krusty decided to leak an email exchange between Kim and Assistant House Minority Leader Jeff Kaufman (R-Wilton).
Representative Kaufman responded to IRTL’s staff when he received the press release about Kim’s departure and wrote:
From: Kaufmann, Jeff
Sent: Sunday, February 07, 2010 11:46 AM
Subject: RE: Release: Kim Lehman Takes New Position with Stem Cell Institute
This is a positive change for Iowa Right to Life and I look forward to working with the new director and building the bridges that have been disrupted the last few years.
Rep. Jeff Kaufmann
As one can imagine that wasn’t received well by Kim or her staff and she responded:
From: Kim Lehman
Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 12:05 AM
To: Kaufmann, Jeff
Subject: [PROBABLY SPAM] Re: Release: Kim Lehman Takes New Position with Stem Cell Institute
My office forwarded this e-mail to me, and I have to say that you didn’t get a positive reception from my staff.
Good luck on that bridge of yours.
Snark gets a snarky reply which I frankly don’t blame Kim for her reply. An exchange ensues and well you can read the whole thing over at Krusty’s blog… oh wait, no you can’t. I emailed Kim and Representative Kaufmann regarding this post. Neither know who leaked – I personally don’t seek Kim leaking emails to Krusty. I’d like to think she’d send them to me first :). Kim also said that Krusty didn’t bother to include the last email in the exchange sent by her which reads:
From: Kim Lehman
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 17:00:20 +0000
To: Kaufmann, Jeff [LEGIS]
Subject: Re: Release: Kim Lehman Takes New Position with Stem Cell Institute
Thank you for the best wishes. I appreciate it.
I will close with saying that I am always open to dialog and willing to talk.
She also commented over at Krusty Konservative’s post by saying:
I’m not a reader of this blog since it is written by a man who isn’t held accountable for what he says. I find that and any of you that hid behind some silly screen name as gutless. It doesn’t surprise me that an e-mail between me and Mr. Kaufmann would be published on this site. What is a little odd is that my last e-mail to Jeff Kaufmann wasn’t part of the article you were all given. So to keep your interest up, I will be so kind to share: Last e-mail between us….”Jeff, Thank you for the best wishes. I appreciate it. I will close with saying that I am always open to dialog and willing to talk.” Kim
Representative Kaufman told me via email that he stands by his position, but thought that whoever leaked the emails would have asked his permission.
Some takeaways from this:
Representative Kaufmann can stand by what he said, but he is basically saying put your party above your principles. I say he’s operating from the wrong position and really out-of-touch with the current political landscape. Even if that wasn’t popular, it is the right thing to do.
Anonymity can lead to bad judgment. I’m not a fan of anonymous bloggers. I think if you have something to say, stand by your word. It is easy to post things and be irresponsible when you are hidden behind a screen name.
It is really inappropriate to share email correspondence without the permission or knowledge of those involved. I know it is a typical political game, but that doesn’t make it right.
This picked at a scab of an old wound that was best left alone. If the emails were not posted this exchange would have stayed private.
Also Krusty mentioned in his post, “At the time, Lehman told the Republican State Central Committee that she would be leaving her post at Iowa Right to Life. This placated a number of central committee members. People assumed that Lehman’s departure from Iowa Right to Life would happen quickly, but it didn’t occur until just a few days ago.” That was an misguided assumption on the members’ part. This position that she is now taking has been in the works for quite some time. Funding had to be in place, and I know Kim was concerned about the transition. Hers is not a position that you can just up and quit. That was ridiculous to assume she’d do that for an essentially a volunteer position with the RNC especially since it is her life’s passion.
Anyway, in a nutshell, Krusty must be an idiot, posting these emails was in no one’s best interest.
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