I was away on vacation last week, and there were a few stories that we were not able to cover on a timely basis as a result. Before I dive into that I want to thank Brian Myers who kept the wheels on the bus going for me while I was away by publishing press releases and guest contributions that came our way. Here are four stories I wanted to briefly address.
1. Bob Eschilman files a federal complaint against Shaw Media.
We covered Bob Eschilman, the former editor of Newton Daily News, coming under fire for his personal blog post on homosexuality and then his subsequent firing.
Bob last week filed a federal complaint against Shaw Media who owns the Newton Daily News. The Liberty Institute is representing Bob, and former U.S. Senate candidate (and former U.S. Attorney) Matt Whitaker is their volunteer attorney on the case. In the press release they sent out last week Whitaker said, “No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs. In America, it is against the law to fire an employee for expressing a religious belief in public. This kind of religious intolerance by an employer has no place in today’s welcoming workforce.”
Unfortunately when it comes to those seeking to advance an LGBT agenda their mindset is “tolerance for me, but not for thee.” There is no way the LGBT community would stand for something like this happening to one of their own, but believe it is appropriate in Bob’s case.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will now begin an independent investigation into the matter. Should the EEOC agree that Shaw Media is guilty of religious discrimination, it may order broad relief, including back pay, front pay and other significant damages.
2. Former Republican Party of Iowa Executive Director Steve Bierfeldt received an outlandish severance package.
I was one who advocated for Danny Carroll to be retained as chair of the Republican Party of Iowa. Had he not been replaced last month, he certainly would have been once the party’s filings were made public and I wouldn’t be able to defend him. Looking at the FEC filings in June, RPI started with $130,399.15 in the bank in their federal account, but the end of the month they had $11,218.50. Almost all of the funds raised for the Federal account in the month of June was from the Republican National Committee – $17,540 on June 2nd. In the time Carroll was chair the party raised $83,192.55 in April, $29,752.63 in May, and June $29,602.50 was raised for their Federal account. They spent $73,965.96 in April, $93,528.54 in May, and $148,783.15 in June. Looking at their state filings $85,140.83 was raised (non-federal). This amount excludes a $17,173.14 transfer from their Federal account. They spent only $36,130.78 out of non-federal monies, and have $158,736.56 on hand.
These are anemic numbers for a state party, but could be explained away due to an expected leadership transition. The primary concern to me, however, is the severance package that was given to former executive director Steve Bierfeldt. I heard rumors of a lofty severance package, but always heard about it second or third hand and was never able to confirm it.
Looking at the FEC filings it is clear that Bierfeldt received a severance package just shy of $38,000. In question are three extra payments to Bierfeldt – $8485.91 on 5/21, $15,283.48 on 6/5, and $11,295.28 on 6/13. Bierfeldt also received $2831.44 on 6/20 which was the typical amount he would receive on a twice-monthly basis (around the 1st and the 15th of the month), but his resignation was effective on June 14th. Caffeinated Thoughts also noted that he received an extra $1000 tacked onto his normal paycheck on 4/1 and 5/1. Typically he would receive $2831.44 instead he received $3831.44 on both of those dates.
Bierfeldt’s payroll, annualized, based on past payments was $67, 954.56. This is more than a six-month severance package from a party that was struggling financially.
I’m not one who will say he shouldn’t have received any type of severance, but when I was downsized from a position I had held for ten years I was given a one month severance package. Also the non-profit world isn’t nearly as volatile as political positions such as this – nobody stays very long in positions like these so severance packages of this magnitude is completely unreasonable.
3. Black Hawk County Democrats call Ronald Reagan a white supremacist.
I was emailed early last week this screenshot from the Black Hawk County Democrats Facebook page, but was unable to write about earlier due to being on vacation so I want to address it now. We could point out that President Obama tripled deficit spending before he cut it. Then we could also point out what he’s done to our national debt.
But really? Calling President Reagan a white supremacist? That’s over the top.
They have since taken it down and apologized.
4. Bruce Braley is the gift that keeps on giving.
We covered Congressman Bruce Braley missing 78% of his veterans affairs committee meetings while I was gone, but I’d be remiss not to point it out again. The Republican Party of Iowa was hammering him for it all week long I could tell by the amount of rapid response emails I was getting.
Momentum in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race has clearly shifted. Jennifer Jacobs had an interesting piece in the Des Moines Register yesterday:
The Washington Post’s Election Lab puts the GOP candidate’s chance at winning Iowa at 78 percent.
Stuart Rothenberg said it’s “something of a surprise” that Iowa is now one of the GOP’s best opportunities to pick up a U.S. Senate seat. Barack Obama won Iowa twice, “so Democrats ought to have a narrow but clear advantage” in a statewide race here, he said.
But the combination of an interesting Republican nominee in Ernst plus missteps by Braley “has smart Democrats fretting about the contest,” Rothenberg said.
Ok, and now I believe I’m caught-up enough, well at least as caught-up as I’m going to get.