First we have the “pay for play” scandal with the Ft. Dodge casino developers and donations made to Governor Culver’s campaign. But, fear not! These donations are legit, and he only gave the money away because he is flush with cash. Contributions were made to three Des Moines area homeless ministries: Door of Faith, Churches United Shelter and St. Vincent de Paul. Anyone see the irony in casino money being donated to homeless ministries? But I digress. Again, don’t worry, Governor Culver insists that his campaign isn’t the focus of the DCI casino investigation. We can take his word on it, because he’s never gone back on his word. Oh wait.
That scandal actually looks minor in comparison to the Governor’s former chief of staff, John Frew’s departure. Beyond the revolving door that the Governor seems to have with that particular position, not to mention his campaign manager woes, there is what Mr. Frew is leaving to go do.
Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican wrote today:
While the turnover in the position has become commonplace, Frew’s departure to manage the City of Cedar Rapids’ new $67 million downtown convention facility has raised ethical questions about his time as Chief of Staff.
As Chief of Staff, Frew would have kept a keen eye on Governor Culver’s chief legislative accomplishment, the $830 million I-Jobs program. Is it a coincidence that Frew announced his departure from the Governor’s office just one month after a $15 million payment to the city of Cedar Rapids was made on March 9th of this year?
While the $15 million payment and Frew’s resignation could just be a coincidence, how could Frew and his company, Frew-Nations, negotiate a contract with the city of Cedar Rapids when he occupied the Chief of Staff position? I’m pretty sure Frew didn’t just wake up one day, resign, and get hired by the city just hours later.
Frew essentially handed Cedar Rapids a check for $15 million one day, and then turned around and quit so he could be the one receiving the money the next. Once Frew and his company became involved in negotiations with the city of Cedar Rapids, he should have resigned from his position as Chief of Staff immediately because of the obvious conflict of interest.
Does anybody other than Craig think this is fishy? Apparently one Cedar Rapids councilman wondered, “why the hurry?” and voted no to this contract which will be an estimated $3.8 million to his firm. Not only that, he negotiated this contract while on the job for the State of Iowa.
Perhaps the DCI needs to visit Mr. Frew. Attorney General Tom Miller certainly needs to investigate. I know he’s busy right now with his own chief of staff issue, but still.
Is it Saturday yet?
Update: In honor of Earth Day, I recycled this post over at The Des Moines Register’s From The Right.