Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate

Ryan Foley, a reporter with the Associated Press, reported on Tuesday that Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate did not disclose a side business of his on his annual ethics filing last week. Wednesday afternoon, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board said Pate’s statement “is not false or fraudulent.”

Foley in his article wrote:

In an annual ethics filing last week, Pate affirmed that the only outside business in which he engaged during 2017 was the eastern Iowa asphalt paving company he has long owned.

But business and government records show that another company Pate formed days before the 2016 presidential election, PRG Group LLC, worked throughout 2017 to open a new mini-storage business in Cedar Rapids.

Shortly after publication of the AP story, Pate disputed their findings.

“A story from the Associated Press today claims that I did not disclose a real estate holding to the Iowa Campaign Ethics and Disclosure Board. This is absolutely false and anyone who views the form I submitted can see that I included commercial and residential real estate holdings as sources of income. The form is filled out correctly and this entire story is a false hit piece, written by a biased reporter with a partisan agenda,” he said. “After visiting with the Campaign Ethics and Disclosure Board today, I am confident my financial disclosure statement is accurate.”

Today in a released statement, Megan Tooker, executive director and legal counsel with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board sided with Pate:

Secretary of State Paul Pate filed a personal financial disclosure statement on April 11, 2018 for the 2017 calendar year as required by Iowa Code section 68B.35.

Reporter Ryan Foley contacted me on April 16th and informed me that Secretary Pate is a member of two limited liability companies and asked me whether Secretary Pate should have disclosed his ownership in these companies. I told Mr. Foley I would need to talk to Secretary Pate before reaching any conclusions.

I spoke with Secretary Pate on April 17th and he told me he owns self-storage facilities and a strip mall, which are held in the names of the LLCs. He disclosed on his personal financial disclosure statement that he received rent from commercial and residential real estate although he did not disclose the names of the LLCs or the addresses of the properties. I told Secretary Pate that ultimately it is up to the Ethics Board to determine whether someone’s disclosure is sufficiently detailed. However, his personal financial disclosure statement is comparable in the level of detail to many other statements that are filed with the Ethics Board and with the legislature. In my opinion, Secretary Pate’s statement is not false or fraudulent.

I also talked to the Ethics Board’s chair, Professor James Albert, on the 17th. He agreed with me that Secretary Pate’s disclosure was not out of the norm in its level of specificity. We further discussed that it would be wise for the Ethics Board to develop for next year a list of frequently asked questions and answers that would help filers understand how much detail they should provide on their personal financial disclosure statements.

I told Secretary Pate he was welcome to amend his personal financial disclosure statement if he so desired but I would not require him to do so at this time. As the Ethics Board’s executive director, I strive every day to treat every person within the Ethics Board’s jurisdiction the same, regardless of political party or whether there is a pending complaint or a media inquiry. Since I am not requiring other filers to provide more detail for their real estate or other sources of income, I do not think it would be appropriate to single out Secretary Pate and hold him to a different standard simply because I received a media inquiry.

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