Iowa Public Television

 

Reporter's Roundtable

posted on April 12, 2006

Yepsen: THE WINTER CAMPAIGN SEASON HAS MOVED INTO THE SPRING CAMPAIGN SEASON. KEEPING AN EYE ON THE POLITICAL CALENDAR, CANDIDATES CONTINUE TO FINE-TUNE THEIR MESSAGES. WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE WITH OUR TEAM OF LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL REPORTERS ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, APRIL 7 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK WAS OUR SCHEDULED GUEST FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' THE GOVERNOR, THOUGH, IS INVOLVED IN BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS AT THE IOWA STATEHOUSE, AND HIS SCHEDULE KEPT HIM FROM JOINING US TODAY. WE'LL HAVE HIM AT A LATER DATE. SO TODAY AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE, WE TALK POLITICS. THE STATE PARTY PRIMARIES OF TUESDAY, JUNE 6, AND THE GENERAL ELECTION OF TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, IS SEVEN MONTHS OFF, AND THERE'S A NEW CONTROVERSY BREWING AT THE STATEHOUSE. JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT IT ARE KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR WITH 'RADIO IOWA,' AND MIKE GLOVER, SENIOR POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE REPORTER WITH THE 'ASSOCIATED PRESS.' ALSO JOINING US ARE TODD DORMAN, CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF WITH THE 'LEE NEWSPAPERS,' AND JENEANE BECK, IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTER WITH 'KUNI PUBLIC RADIO.' WELL, TODD, I WANT TO GO AROUND THE TABLE AND GET EVERYBODY'S COMMENT ON THIS. IOWANS LEARNED A NEW ACRONYM LAST WEEK, CIETC. IT STANDS FOR CENTRAL IOWA EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING CONSORTIUM. WHAT'S THE CONTROVERSY ABOUT?

Dorman: WELL, EVERYBODY BETTER GET OUT THEIR FLOW CHARTS AND, AS YOU'RE FOND OF SAYING IN YOUR COLUMN, POUR ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE BECAUSE IT'S A LITTLE COMPLICATED. CIETC IS AN INDEPENDENT -- SUPPOSEDLY INDEPENDENT ORGANIZATION THAT PROVIDES HELP TO UNEMPLOYED AND UNDEREMPLOYED PEOPLE. IT'S FUNDED WITH FEDERAL FUNDS, BUT IT'S ALSO OVERSEEN BY THE IOWA DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT. ABOUT A WEEK AGO THE STATE AUDITOR UNCOVERED -- OR ISSUED A REPORT THAT SHOWED THAT EXECUTIVES WITH CIETC ARE RECEIVING PRETTY EXORBITANT WAGES WITH THAT FEDERAL MONEY, ABOUT $1.2 MILLION TOTAL BETWEEN THREE EXECUTIVES. AND THIS HAS RAISED A LOT OF EYEBROWS AND A LOT OF CONTROVERSY AT THE STATEHOUSE. AND WE'RE ONLY AT THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG IT LOOKS LIKE AT THIS POINT.

Yepsen: JENEANE, WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THIS?

Beck: WELL, WE'VE SEEN TWO RESIGNATIONS FROM THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT OFFICE. IT DOESN'T APPEAR THAT THE TOP EXECUTIVES AT CIETC ARE STILL IN THEIR POSITIONS. WE DON'T KNOW BUT THEY HAVEN'T BEEN SHOWING UP TO WORK LATELY. AND, YOU KNOW, IT JUST GETS JUICER BY THE DAY. WE HAVE PEOPLE THROWING DOCUMENTS IN DUMPSTERS IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS, AND OTHER PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PUT ON INVESTIGATIVE LEAVE. AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS COMING IN TO JOIN THE INVESTIGATION, SO IT IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG, AS TODD SAID.

Yepsen: KAY, HOW DO YOU SEE IT?

Henderson: WELL, REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING THAT GOVERNOR VILSACK IS NOT HERE IN DES MOINES TO DEAL WITH THEM ON THE BUDGET AND OTHER MATTERS PENDING IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. AND I THINK THIS EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS THE FACT THAT GOVERNOR VILSACK IS, IN MANY WAYS, AN ABSENTEE GOVERNOR AND HE HAS NOT DELEGATED TO OTHER PEOPLE ON HIS STAFF THE AUTHORITY TO ACT IN HIS STEAD. I THINK THAT THIS EPISODE COULD HAVE -- I MEAN THE BLEEDING COULD HAVE STOPPED A LOT EARLIER HAD HE BEEN HERE AND ACTED AS SOON AS THE AUDITOR'S REPORT WAS ISSUED. HE DID NOT AND I THINK THAT HE WILL PAY THE CONSEQUENCES OF THAT.

Yepsen: MIKE, WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE POLITICS OF ALL OF THIS?

Glover: WELL, THE POLITICS OF THIS ARE PRETTY SIMPLE. FIRST OF ALL, IF YOU STEP BACK AND LOOK AWAY FROM THE FLOW CHARTS THAT TODD MENTIONED, WHAT WE HAVE IS WE HAVE AN ORGANIZATION THAT WAS SET UP BY A BUNCH OF POLK COUNTY POLITICIANS TO FUNNEL MONEY TO THEMSELVES, AND THOSE POLITICIANS CAME FROM POLK COUNTY DEMOCRATIC POLITICS, FROM WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPMENT, FROM ALL KINDS OF PLACES. BUT THAT'S BASICALLY WHAT IT WAS, WAS A SHELL THAT WAS SET UP TO FUNNEL A BUNCH OF MONEY TO SOME POLITICAL WELL-CONNECTED INSIDERS. AND IT IS BY NO ACCOUNTS A DEMOCRATIC SCANDAL. THESE ARE POLK COUNTY DEMOCRATS LARGELY APPOINTED BY A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR, AND THE FALLOUT IS GOING TO BE TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. AND THAT'S WHY YOU'RE GOING TO FIND REPUBLICANS AT THE STATEHOUSE DOING EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER TO KEEP THIS ALIVE FOR AS LONG AS THEY CAN. THEY'RE ALREADY SAYING AT THE STATEHOUSE, EXPECT US TO BE DEBATING THIS AT THE END OF THE SUMMER. SO THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP THIS GOING FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS AND MONTHS BECAUSE THEY EXPECT THE BLEEDING TO BE ALL DEMOCRATIC.

Yepsen: TODD, DO YOU THINK THE REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO OVERPLAY THEIR HAND HERE? IS THERE A DANGER OF THAT, OR IS THIS JUST A GIFT THAT JUST KEEPS ON GIVING TO THEM?

Dorman: WELL, THEY'RE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT IT BECAUSE, I MEAN, FOR SEVERAL MONTHS THEY'VE HAD TO TAKE BASHING FROM DEMOCRATS ABOUT CORRUPTION -- ABOUT WASHINGTON, D.C., CORRUPTION. AND THEY NOW CAN POINT THE FINGER BACK THE OTHER WAY, AND THEY'RE ANXIOUS TO DO THAT. I THINK THE ONE THING THAT THEY'VE GOT TO BE CAREFUL OF IS THAT BASICALLY IOWANS, YOU KNOW, IN GENERAL THINK GOVERNMENT IS KIND OF CROOKED IN SOME WAYS, BUT THEY ALSO EXPECT GOVERNMENT TO GET SOMETHING DONE. THEY EXPECT THEM TO FUND THE SCHOOLS AND THE PROGRAMS THAT AFFECT THEM. IF THEY FEEL LIKE THEY'RE TOO FIXATED ON SCANDAL AND NOT DOING THE PEOPLE'S BUSINESS, DOING THE WORK OF GOVERNMENT, I THINK IT COULD BACKFIRE.

Yepsen: JENEANE, WHAT'S THE EFFECT ON THE LEGISLATURE? MIKE MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, THEY MAY EXTEND THE SESSION. ARE THERE OTHER EFFECTS?

Beck: THERE ARE AND DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO PLAY THEIR HAND. THE OTHER DAY THEY WERE SAYING, WELL, IF REPUBLICANS WANT TO FOCUS ON SCANDAL INSTEAD OF TEACHER SALARIES AND OUR FUTURE, THAT'S THE SCANDAL. THEY'RE NOT FOCUSING ON KIDS AND ON THE WAGES THE TEACHERS EARN. AND SO IT DOES TAKE THE ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE OTHER ISSUES THAT -- THE BUDGET CONTROVERSIES AT THE STATEHOUSE AND IT FOCUSES IT ALL ON THIS SCANDALOUS SALARIES. AND I THINK IT WILL EXTEND THE SESSION AND IT WILL DIVERT ATTENTION FROM OTHER ISSUES THE LEGISLATURE IS TRYING TO SOLVE.

Glover: ONE OF THE THINGS -- ONE OF THE REASONS THIS SCANDAL HAS THE LEGS THAT IT HAS IS BECAUSE IT'S HAPPENED AT THAT POINT IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION WHEN NOT MUCH IS HAPPENING. THE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS AND THE GOVERNOR MEET EVERY DAY BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. THE LAST THING BIG THING THEY'VE GOT TO DO IS APPROVE A BUDGET. THEY MEET BEHIND CLOSED DOORS EVERY DAY TO NEGOTIATE A BUDGET AND COME OUT AND SAY, WELL, WE'RE MAKING SOME PROGRESS, SO AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR, WE REALLY DON'T HAVE MUCH TO DO SO WE HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO CALL EVERYBODY WE KNOW AND ASK THEM ABOUT CIETC.

Yepsen: WELL, KAY, YOU MENTIONED THE GOVERNOR AS BEING GONE AND HOW THIS MIGHT PLAY INTO THIS. DOES THIS WEAKEN HIS HAND IN THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS? I MEAN DOESN'T HE REALLY WANT TO GET THIS LEGISLATURE OUT OF TOWN NOW?

Henderson: RIGHT. HE SHOULD TRY TO CUT THE QUICKEST DEAL THAT HE CAN IN ORDER FOR THE LEGISLATURE TO SHUT DOWN NEXT WEEK. I DON'T THINK REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS ARE NOW INCLINED TO LET THAT HAPPEN. HE REALLY DOES NEED THEM NOT TO BE HERE AND HARANGUING AND JUST BRINGING THIS UP DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY.

Yepsen: HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Glover: HOW DID IT HAPPEN? IT HAPPENED BECAUSE YOU HAVE A QUASI-INDEPENDENT AGENCY, IOWA WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, WHOSE MISSION -- WHOSE JOB IS TO NOT ONLY RUN THE STATE'S UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM BUT TO DO JOB TRAINING, JOB DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS. AND IN SORT OF A REAGAN ERA LOCAL GOVERNMENT, GET GOVERNMENT OUT OF THINGS, THE JOB CREATION, THE JOB TRAINING PROGRAM HAS NOW BEEN TURNED OVER LARGELY TO PRIVATE ENTERPRISES. SO STATES CREATE THESE PRIVATE COMPANIES QUASI GOVERNMENTAL, QUASI PRIVATE, KIND OF -- SORT OF OVERSEEN BY GOVERNMENT BUT NOT REALLY OVERSEEN BY GOVERNMENT, AND FUNNEL A BOAT LOAD OF MONEY TO THEM. AND WHEN YOU HAVE THAT KIND OF A SETUP IN KIND OF A QUASI-INDEPENDENT AGENCY THAT'S NOT CLOSELY OVERSEEN -- AND THE OTHER FACTOR IS YOU HAVE A GOVERNOR WHO'S THINKING ABOUT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. HIS ATTENTION IS ELSEWHERE. THERE'S NOT A LOT OF OVERSIGHT. THESE THINGS HAPPEN.

Yepsen: TODD, WHERE DOES IT END UP? HOW DOES THIS PLAY OUT? WE TALK ABOUT THIS BEING THE TIP OF AN ICEBERG HERE AND LOTS OF OTHER THINGS, LONGER SESSION. DO WE SEE AN END IN SIGHT FOR THIS CONTROVERSY?

Dorman: WELL, THERE ARE GOING TO BE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS. THERE'S A POSSIBILITY OF A FEDERAL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF -- THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION HERE IN THE STATE HAS STARTED TO INVESTIGATE THIS. IT'S STILL A LONG WAY OFF TO KNOW WHETHER A LOT OF VOTERS WILL CARE ABOUT THIS. CERTAINLY POLK COUNTY VOTERS MAY CARE ABOUT IT IF THEY FIGURE OUT THAT THEIR COURTHOUSE OR CITY HALL PEOPLE WERE ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH OR ACTUALLY ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN -- KNOWINGLY ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN. AND THAT COULD -- THAT COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON DEMOCRATIC POLITICS BECAUSE POLK COUNTY IS THE MOST POPULOUS DEMOCRATIC CENTER IN THE STATE. IF FOLKS THERE SUFFER, THEN THAT COULD HAVE REPERCUSSIONS FOR HIGHER CANDIDATES UP THE FOOD CHAIN.

Glover: ON ANOTHER LEVEL, HOWEVER, POLK COUNTY DEMOCRATIC POLITICS HAS NEVER BEEN A VERY SAVORY OPERATION AND THEY'VE NEVER PAID AT THE POLLS FOR IT, SO I DON'T KNOW WHY THEY WOULD THIS TIME.

Yepsen: NO. BUT IT IS TRUE THAT STATEWIDE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES HAVE TO GET BIG MARGINS OUT OF THIS COUNTY -- OF POLK COUNTY. AND SOME OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS, JOHNNY MAURO, ARCHIE BROOKS, ARE PEOPLE WHO RUN THE MACHINERY OF THE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION.

Beck: IS THIS BAD NEWS FOR BOSWELL, THEN?

Glover: I'M JUST SAYING THAT THEY'VE DONE A LOT OF THINGS LIKE THIS IN THE PAST AND NOT PAID A PRICE FOR IT. MAYBE THEY'LL PAY A PRICE THIS TIME, BUT I'LL WAIT AND SEE.

Yepsen: KAY, ARE THERE ANY HEROES IN THIS? I MEAN IT STRIKES ME THAT, AS TODD MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, THIS IS -- THIS IS GOING TO SIMPLY REINFORCE PEOPLE'S VIEW THAT GOVERNMENT IS BAD AND DOESN'T WORK. BUT IT ALSO STRIKES ME THAT IT WAS A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE WHO BLEW THE WHISTLE TO THE STATE AUDITOR AND THAT, IN FACT, GOVERNMENT WORKED. BUT ARE THERE ANY HEROES, IN YOUR MIND?

Henderson: WELL, INDEED KELLY TAYLOR WHO YOU JUST REFERENCED, WHO WE ALL REFER TO AS THE WHISTLE BLOWER, WAS HAILED AS A HERO THIS WEEK DURING COMMITTEE HEARINGS FOR ACTUALLY TAKING HIS CONCERNS TO THE NEXT LEVEL, CALLING THE FEDS, COOPERATING WITH THE STATE AUDITOR. STATE AUDITOR DAVE VAUDT HAS REALLY BEEN SORT OF AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY BECAUSE HE'S NEWLY ELECTED TO THAT POSITION, TAKING OVER FROM SOMEONE WHO HELD THE JOB FOR DECADES, AND I THINK HE'S REALLY COME INTO HIS OWN IN THIS CONTROVERSY. AND I THINK ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING THINGS THAT I SAW -- AND IT'S JUST A LITTLE MINUTIA PART OF THIS WHOLE THING. BUT WHEN THE SECRETARY OF THE FIRE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY WAS DUMPING DOCUMENTS IN A DUMPSTER AT, YOU KNOW, 4:00, 6:00 IN THE MORNING, THE PERSON WHO SAW THAT MADE AN ANONYMOUS CALL. THEY DIDN'T CALL THE DES MOINES POLICE. THEY DIDN'T THE CALL THE STATE TROOPERS. THEY CALLED THE AUDITOR'S OFFICE. SO THE AUDITOR HAS COME OUT OF THIS AS SOMEONE SEEN BY STATE EMPLOYEES WHO MAY SEE SOMETHING UNSAVORY OR ILLEGAL HAPPENING IN THEIR AGENCY, AND THEY ARE NOW GOING TO THE STATE AUDITOR AND REPORTING THESE THINGS. SO I MEAN TRULY THERE COULD BE MORE TO COME OUT OF THIS FROM THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY JUST BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THAT AGENCY. IT OVERSEES A LOT OF FEDERAL FUNDS. THERE'S VERY LITTLE STATE MONEY THAT'S SPENT, SO YOU COULD SEE A LOT COMING OUT OF THIS FROM THE STATE AUDITOR'S OFFICE.

Glover: IT'S A LITTLE EARLY, I THINK, TO TALK ABOUT HEROES, BECAUSE ONE OF THE THINGS THAT STRUCK ME IN ALL OF THE TESTIMONY WE'VE HEARD ABOUT IOWA WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT IS THAT PLACE WAS A RAT'S NEST, A RAT'S NEST OF BUREAUCRATIC INFIGHTING, OF COMPETING CAMPS AT EACH OTHER'S THROATS. SO I DON'T KNOW WHAT CAMP KELLY TAYLOR WAS IN. I DON'T KNOW IF HE WAS A FACTION THAT WAS OPPOSED TO THE ADMINISTRATION AGENCY. I DON'T KNOW ALL THE INFIGHTING. I JUST KNOW THAT THAT AGENCY WAS A RAT'S NEST OF BUREAUCRATIC INFIGHTING.

Dorman: AND WHAT'S LOST IN SOME OF THE SALACIOUS DETAILS IS THE FACT THAT THIS MONEY THAT WAS GIVEN TO THESE EXECUTIVES THAT FUNNELLED TO THEM WAS SUPPOSED TO BE USED TO HELP PEOPLE WHO ARE UNEMPLOYED FIND WORK. AND THE ECONOMY HASN'T BEEN SO HOT, AND THAT'S KIND OF THE LOST STORY IS THAT THERE WERE PROBABLY FOLKS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN SERVED, THAT COULD HAVE GOTTEN HELP THAT DIDN'T BECAUSE SOMEONE DECIDED TO LINE THEIR POCKETS.

Henderson: AND THERE WAS ANOTHER ODD MOMENT THIS WEEK IN THE COMMITTEE HEARING WHEN THE STATE AUDITOR REVEALED THAT THE ONLY PHONE CALL HE'D GOTTEN FROM WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT THAT DAY WAS FROM FOLKS CALLING ON BEHALF OF CIETC TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW THEY COULD MEET THE NEXT PAYROLL. AND FOLKS IN THE ROOM LAUGHED, AND THEN ANOTHER SENATOR, TOM COURTNEY, SAID YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE EMPLOYED BY CIETC WHO ARE ACTUALLY HELPING CLIENTS FIND WORK AND THEY NEED TO BE PAID AND CONTINUE THAT WORK OF HELPING CLIENTS.

Yepsen: YEAH, I'VE NOTICED SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO I'VE TALKED TO WHO ARE MOST ANGRY ABOUT THIS, TO YOUR POINT, TODD, ARE DEMOCRATS WHO REALLY FEEL LIKE THE DEMOCRATS AT CIETC SORT OF BETRAYED THE WORKING PEOPLE WHO WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GETTING HELP FROM THIS. TODD, ARE THERE ANY WINNERS AND LOSERS IN THE LEGISLATURE YET? I MEAN MARY LUNDBY, THE STATE SENATOR FROM MARION, IS GETTING A TON OF PUBLICITY OUT OF THIS.

Dorman: WELL, SHE WAS THE -- SHE WAS THE SENATOR CREDITED IN NO SMALL PART FOR BRINGING DOWN TOUCH PLAY, AND NOW SHE'S -- SHE'S SET HER SIGHTS ON CIETC. YEAH, I THINK SHE'S REALLY BUILDING A REPUTATION AS A LEGISLATOR THAT'S NOT AFRAID TO TELL IT LIKE IT IS AND IS SEEN AS A RESPONSIBLE VOICE. BUT SHE'S ALSO AN ASSISTANT LEADER IN THE SENATE AND, LIKE OTHER REPUBLICANS, YOU KNOW, SHE CAN SEE THE POLITICAL ADVANTAGE IN THIS AS WELL.

Beck: AND SHE'S ALSO A LEADER THAT WAS JUST BROUGHT ON BOARD IN LEADERSHIP TO HELP THEM RETAIN CONTROL OF THE SENATE. REPUBLICANS, YOU KNOW, EVENLY DIVIDED AND THEY LOOK TO HER TO HELP THEM AND SHE MIGHT SEE THIS AS A WAY TO HELP THEM RETAIN -- OR GAIN CONTROL. LET ME PUT IT THAT WAY.

Glover: AND MARY LUNDBY IS IN AN UNUSUAL, INTERESTING POSITION. MARY LUNDBY IS A CANCER SURVIVOR, WHO DOES NOT HAVE A POLITICAL FUTURE. SHE'S NOT AMBITIOUS FOR HIGHER OFFICE. SHE'S SECURE IN A VERY SAFE SENATE SEAT, AND SO SHE HAS A LITTLE FLEXIBILITY TO BE INDEPENDENT AND EVEN BUCK HER LEADERSHIP AT TIMES AND GIVE THAT INDEPENDENT VOICE. SO THAT PUTS HER IN THAT SORT OF UNIQUE POSITION.

Yepsen: MIKE, IS THIS -- THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH REASSERTING ITS OVERSIGHT FUNCTION, OR IS THIS POLITICS?

Glover: IT'S POLITICS AND I THINK THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH WILL USE THE POLITICS OF THIS MOMENT TO TRY TO REASSERT ITS OVERSIGHT BRANCH. BUT YOU'VE GOT TO REMEMBER WE HAVE A REPUBLICAN HOUSE, AN EVENLY DIVIDED SENATE. REPUBLICANS IN THE LEGISLATURE WILL TRY TO ASSERT THEIR OVERSIGHT VIEW BECAUSE THERE'S A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR RIGHT NOW. BUT WE'RE HEADING INTO A GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION. WHAT WILL THE FUTURE OF THAT ASSERTING OUR OVERSIGHT RIGHTS BE SHOULD WE ELECT A REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR?

Beck: LET'S NOT FORGET THAT THE COMMITTEE THAT'S SUDDENLY ALL UP IN ARMS AND LOOKING INTO THIS, THE LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE, IS THE SAME COMMITTEE THAT LOOKED INTO TOUCH PLAY AND FOR YEARS ALLOWED IT TO CONTINUE AND TO KEEP PROCEEDING WHERE THEY APPROVED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD PUT TOUCH PLAY MACHINES IN BARS AND RESTAURANTS ACROSS THIS STATE AND THEN SUDDENLY ACTED LIKE THEY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT. SO, YOU KNOW, THIS MIGHT BE A LITTLE BIT OF TRYING TO REDEEM THEMSELVES AS WELL.

Yepsen: TODD, WILL THERE BE LEGISLATION COMING OUT OF THIS SCANDAL IN THE LEGISLATURE?

Dorman: I THINK THERE MAY BE SOME LEGISLATION THAT WOULD, AS MIKE SAID, CHANGE THE WAY THESE AGENCIES ARE -- CHANGE THE ACCOUNTABILITY STRUCTURE. THERE MAY ALSO BE LEGISLATION STRENGTHENING THE STATE'S WHISTLE BLOWER PROTECTIONS FOR EMPLOYEES THAT -- LIKE KELLY TAYLOR THAT COME FORWARD WITH EVIDENCE OF WRONGDOING.

Henderson: AND I THINK REPUBLICANS WILL ALSO DEMAND NEW PROCEDURES FOR WHEN FOLKS ARE TERMINATED OR FIRED OR THEY RESIGN. THIS DOCUMENT DUMP IS SORT OF INCONCEIVABLE. THE FOLKS WHO LOST THEIR JOBS, THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND THE DIRECTOR OF THE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, THAT ANNOUNCEMENT CAME LATE ON WEDNESDAY. AND THE FOLKS IN CHARGE OF PERSONNEL FOR THE STATE DECIDED TO WAIT TILL 7:30 THE NEXT MORNING TO SECURE THE OFFICES AND THE COMPUTER EQUIPMENT. SO THAT WAS -- THAT WAS A LAPSE IN JUDGMENT, AND REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO PRESS THEM TO CHANGE THOSE PROCEDURES.

Glover: THEY'VE ALREADY SAID -- 'THEY' BEING MARY LUNDBY -- HAS ALREADY SAID THAT THERE WILL BE A LEADERSHIP BILL PROBABLY NEXT WEEK TO TIGHTEN UP PROTECTION FOR WHISTLE BLOWERS, AND THAT WILL PROBABLY PASS VIRTUALLY UNANIMOUSLY.

Yepsen: WELL, SOMETHING TELLS ME WE'RE ALL GOING TO BE WRITING AND TALKING A LOT MORE ABOUT THIS IN THE COMING MONTHS AHEAD. LET'S SWITCH GEARS. I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR GOVERNOR. IT'S THE OTHER BIG POLITICAL STORY GOING ON. KAY, GIVE US YOUR HANDICAP OF THE DEMOCRATIC RACE FOR GOVERNOR.

Henderson: I THINK IT'S A TOSS-UP RIGHT NOW. THERE'S REALLY NO CREDIBLE POLL. NO INDEPENDENT ORGANIZATION HAS DONE A POLL TO GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF WHERE THESE HORSES ARE RUNNING IN THIS RACE RIGHT NOW. YOU HAVE IN CHET CULVER SOMEONE WHO HAS SEEMINGLY IDENTIFIED FOLKS WITHIN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ESTABLISHMENT AS HIS SUPPORTERS. HE BENEFITS FROM SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN SOUTH DAKOTA THIS YEAR. THAT GOVERNOR SIGNED A BILL RESTRICTING MOST ABORTIONS, OUTLAWING THEM. AND THAT HIGHLIGHTS A DIFFERENCE WITH MIKE BLOUIN, THE FORMER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR WHO IS PRO-LIFE. THE OTHER PERSON IN THE RACE, ED FALLON, IS SEEN BY MANY AS, YOU KNOW, A VERY CAPABLE ORGANIZER, AND HIS FOLKS ARE VERY ENERGIZED. SO I MEAN THIS COULD BE A PHOTO FINISH IF WE LOOK AT IT RIGHT NOW.

Yepsen: MIKE, WHAT'S YOUR HANDICAP ON THIS PRIMARY?

Glover: THE LONGER IT GOES, THE WORSE SHAPE CHET CULVER IS IN. THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM A YEAR AGO WAS CHET CULVER WAS LIKELY GOING TO BE THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE. HE'S GOT A GREAT FAMILY NAME FOR A DEMOCRAT. HIS FATHER WAS A UNITED STATES SENATOR AND CONGRESSMAN. HE STARTED EARLIER THAN ANYBODY ELSE. HE'S WON STATEWIDE ELECTION TWICE. HE'S RAISED MORE MONEY THAN ANYBODY ELSE. SO THE SORT OF CONVENTIONAL WISDOM AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS WAS THAT HE WAS A CANDIDATE LIKELY TO WIN THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION. HE'S SHOWN WEAKNESS AS A CANDIDATE IN SEVERAL YEARS AREAS, AND BLOUIN HAS MOVED FAIRLY CAPABLY TO ORGANIZE MANY IMPORTANT PARTS OF THE DEMOCRATIC BASE, ORGANIZED LABOR; THE SORT OF ELECTED OFFICIAL COURTHOUSE CROWD, HE'S MANAGED TO SECURE THOSE. SO IN A RELATIVELY LOW TURNOUT ELECTION, THOSE KIND OF ENDORSEMENTS CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Yepsen: TODD, HOW DO YOU SEE THE PRIMARY?

Dorman: BLOUIN SEEMS TO BE CATCHING IT FROM TWO SIDES RIGHT NOW. HE'S GETTING A LOT OF CRITICISM ABOUT HIS PRO-LIFE STANCE ON ABORTION FROM CHET CULVER, AND HE'S ALSO GETTING A LOT OF CRITICISM FROM ED FALLON ABOUT THE IOWA VALUES FUND, WHICH IS THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM HE HELPED INITIATE WITH GOVERNOR VILSACK. REPRESENTATIVE FALLON ARGUES THAT IT'S CORPORATE WELFARE, THAT THERE'S NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HOW MANY JOBS ARE ACTUALLY BEING CREATED, THAT THERE'S KIND OF A DISCONNECT BETWEEN GIVING MONEY TO CORPORATIONS WHEN THAT MONEY SHOULD ACTUALLY BE GOING TO SCHOOLS AND OTHER SOCIAL PROGRAMS. AND I GET A SENSE FROM BLOUIN THAT HE IS ABOUT TO -- I MEAN I THINK HE'S GOING TO GO BACK ON THE ATTACK. HE SAID LAST WEEK THAT HE WAS GOING TO START QUESTIONING MORE STRONGLY FALLON'S ASSESSMENT OF THE VALUES FUND. SO IT'S GETTING TO BE TESTY, BUT THESE ARE REALLY IMPORTANT ISSUES. I MEAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS A BIG ISSUE IN A STATE THAT'S NOT GROWING AS FAST AS PEOPLE WOULD LIKE.

Yepsen: DEMOCRATS GETTING TESTY? [ LAUGHTER ]

Dorman: LIKE ONE SAID THE OTHER DAY WHEN WE ASKED HIM ABOUT THAT, HE'S LIKE, WELL, YOU KNOW DEMOCRATS, WE FORM A CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD. IT'S NOTHING NEW.

Yepsen: JENEANE, WHAT'S YOUR HANDICAP ON THIS?

Beck: WELL, I THINK WHAT'S INTERESTING IS IT'S CLEAR CULVER HAS DECIDED BLOUIN IS HIS MAIN RIVAL AND HAS FOCUSED ALL OF HIS ATTACKS ON BLOUIN, BUT HE DOES NEED TO BE CAREFUL. ED FALLON, AS KAY MENTIONED, HAS A STRONG STATEWIDE ORGANIZATION. HE HAS VERY ENERGIZED SUPPORTERS. AND IF CULVER DOESN'T ALSO LOOK AT FALLON AS A CHALLENGER, THOSE THAT MIGHT LOOK AT THE TWO OF THEM AS THEIR MOST VIABLE CANDIDATES IF THEY DON'T LIKE BLOUIN'S PRO-LIFE STANCE, IF THERE'S NO ATTACK AGAINST FALLON, IF HE'S JUST LEFT WITH NOBODY LOOKING AT HIM AS A VIABLE CANDIDATE, HE JUST RISES FASTER THAN THEY EXPECT.

Glover: SOMETHING TO KEEP AN EYE ON, THE WINNER OF THIS PRIMARY TO GET THE NOMINATION WILL HAVE TO GET 35 PERCENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VOTE. FOUR YEARS AGO WHEN THERE WAS A THREE-WAY REPUBLICAN PRIMARY, DOUG GROSS WON THE NOMINATION WITH 35.7 PERCENT OF THE REPUBLICAN VOTE. SO THAT WILL BE ONE THRESHOLD WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP AN EYE ON. DOES ANYBODY GET TO THAT 35-PERCENT THRESHOLD, OR DO THESE GUYS JUST DICE IT UP THREE WAYS, IN WHICH CASE THE NOMINEE WOULD BE PICKED AT A DEMOCRATIC STATE CONVENTION ON JUNE 17, WHICH WOULD BE A MARVELOUS POLITICAL STORY.

Yepsen: KAY, IS THIS A GOOD THING OR A BAD THING FOR DEMOCRATS TO HAVE THIS GOING ON?

Henderson: THE ARGUMENT -- THE ARGUMENT CAN BE MADE BOTH WAYS. I THINK IT'S HEALTHY FOR A PARTY TO HAVE THESE SORT OF DEBATES AND HAVE A DISCUSSION AMONG THEMSELVES ABOUT WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT. EACH OF THESE CANDIDATES BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO THE TABLE. AND WHEN IT'S ALL SAID AND DONE, THE NOMINEE CAN SORT OF EMBRACE THE IDEAS THAT HAVE BEEN TALKED ABOUT DURING THE CAMPAIGN. SO I THINK IT'S HEALTHY FOR A PARTY TO HAVE THIS KIND OF DEBATE.

Glover: TOM VILSACK'S PEOPLE WILL TELL YOU HE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ELECTED GOVERNOR IN 1998 HAD HE NOT HAD A DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. IF YOU GO BACK TO THAT YEAR, IF YOU RECALL, THERE WAS A VERY SPIRITED DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY BETWEEN MARK MCCORMICK, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, AND TOM VILSACK. MARK MCCORMICK WAS SUPPOSED TO WIN. THERE WAS A REPUBLICAN PRIMARY AS WELL, BUT EVERYBODY KNEW THAT JIM LIGHTFOOT WAS GOING TO WIN. EVERYBODY KNEW THAT JIM LIGHTFOOT WAS GOING TO BE THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF IOWA. IN FACT, TOM VILSACK WON THE PRIMARY. AND THESE PEOPLE WILL TELL YOU THAT THAT PRIMARY, THAT HARD-FOUGHT PRIMARY CAMPAIGN IMPROVED HIM AS A CANDIDATE. HE GOT BETTER AND WOULD NOT PROBABLY HAVE BEEN ELECTED GOVERNOR IN THE FALL WITHOUT THAT.

Beck: IT ALSO PUTS THEIR NAMES OUT THERE. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, FALLON IS A STATE REPRESENTATIVE WHOSE ONLY BEEN ELECTED FROM THE DES MOINES AREA. BLOUIN SERVED IN CONGRESS BUT IN EASTERN IOWA MANY YEARS AGO. THESE ARE NAMES THAT WERE NOT EASILY RECOGNIZABLE TO IOWANS, AND THIS ALLOWS THEM TO GET THEIR NAME OUT THERE.

Yepsen: WE'VE ONLY GOT A FEW MINUTES LEFT, AND I WANT TO GET TO THE BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE. TODD, WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT WHO CONTROLS THE SENATE AND WHO CONTROLS THE HOUSE?

Dorman: WELL, THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH RIGHT NOW, IS THAT DEMOCRATS HAVE A GOOD SHOT AT TAKING OVER THE SENATE. IT'S TIED RIGHT NOW. THERE ARE SOME KEY REPUBLICANS LEAVING THEIR SEATS IN SWING DISTRICTS, AND DEMOCRATS FEEL VERY CONFIDENT. IN THE HOUSE, IT'S MUCH MORE OF A TOSS-UP. IT COULD GO EITHER WAY. THERE IS A LOT OF CONFIDENCE ON BOTH SIDES. IT PROMISES TO BE A VERY AGGRESSIVE CAMPAIGN WITH LOTS OF MONEY BEING PUMPED INTO KEY RACES.

Yepsen: AND, JENEANE, BOTH PARTIES ARE HAVING A VERY SPIRITED PRIMARY IN NORTHEAST IOWA FOR JIM NUSSLE'S OLD CONGRESSIONAL SEAT. ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT?

Beck: WELL, THAT'S BEEN AN INTERESTING PRIMARY BECAUSE, YOU'RE RIGHT, BOTH SIDES -- I MEAN HERE'S AN OPEN SEAT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS AND A SEAT THAT IS ACTUALLY WINNABLE FOR EITHER PARTY. SO THAT'S INTERESTING. AND WHAT I HAVE FOUND SORT OF ODD IS THAT IMMIGRATION HAS BEEN A BIG TOPIC AMONG REPUBLICANS IN THAT DISTRICT AMONG THE CANDIDATES. AND I'M NOT SURE ENTIRELY WHY THAT'S SO IMPORTANT THERE, BUT YOU'VE SEEN BOTH OF THEM -- OR ALL THREE TRYING TO SCORE POINTS ON THAT ISSUE.

Glover: IT IS PROBABLY ARGUABLY THE TOP PRIORITY CONGRESSIONAL RACE IN THE COUNTRY. IT IS A SEAT CURRENTLY HELD BY REPUBLICANS WITH MORE REGISTERED DEMOCRATS THAN REPUBLICANS IN THE DISTRICT. IT'S A SEAT THAT OUGHT TO BE HELD BY A DEMOCRAT THAT IS CURRENTLY HELD BY A REPUBLICAN. ADDING TO THE FOCUS ON THIS RACE, JOHN LAPP, TOM VILSACK'S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, IS HEAD OF THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, SO YOU CAN BET THIS RACE IS GOING TO GET A LOT OF ATTENTION. WHOEVER WINS THE NOMINATION IN THAT RACE IN BOTH PARTIES WILL NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MONEY.

Yepsen: THERE'S NOT A PRIMARY BUT I DON'T WANT TO OVERLOOK THE THIRD DISTRICT RACE, KAY. VERY QUICKLY, JEFF LAMBERTI TAKING ON LEONARD BOSWELL. DOES JEFF LAMBERTI HAVE A SHOT AT BOSWELL?

Henderson: HE DOES. HE'S RAISED THE RESOURCES, MONEY THAT HE NEEDS FOR THIS RACE. AND I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS IN THE DISTRICT WHO THINK HE IS A MUCH BETTER FIT FOR THE DISTRICT AND A CANDIDATE THAN WAS STAN THOMPSON IN THE PREVIOUS TWO ELECTIONS.

Yepsen: IS BOSWELL'S HEALTH GOING TO BE A PROBLEM?

Henderson: CERTAINLY IT WILL. PEOPLE HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT. AND YOU KNOW, THE INTERESTING THING IS THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE MOST QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT ARE OFTEN OLDER FOLKS. AND WE ALL KNOW THAT OLDER FOLKS HAVE THE GREATEST PERCENTAGE OF VOTE IN THE STATE --

Glover: WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT LEONARD BOSWELL MOVED HERE AFTER REAPPORTIONMENT, BECAUSE HE GOT REDISTRICTED INTO A VERY REPUBLICAN DISTRICT. HE'S NEVER BEEN A GOOD FIT FOR THIS DISTRICT, NOT FOR THE MERITS AS A PERSON THAT'S A POLITICIAN. HE'S A SLOW TALKING, SLOW WALKING, USED TO BE OVERWEIGHT, SOUTHERN IOWA FARMER WHO'S HAD HEALTH PROBLEMS. THAT'S NOT A GOOD FIT FOR A DISTRICT THAT IS LARGELY URBAN, LARGELY YOUNGER, AND LARGELY DRIVEN BY IMAGE. IT'S NOT A GOOD FIT.

Yepsen: BUT CAN A GUY -- A POLITICIAN COMING OUT OF THE SUBURBS RUN WELL IN RURAL PARTS OF THE DISTRICT?

Henderson: THIS GUY IS A HUNTER. HE TALKS THEIR LANGUAGE. IF YOU GO INTO HIS OFFICE, IT'S FULL OF WILDLIFE PICTURES. SO THIS IS A GUY WHO CAN TALK TO RURAL IOWANS. HE IS NOT SOMEONE WHO -- WHO WILL SHOW UP, YOU KNOW, IN A BROOKS BROTHERS SUIT IN SOME SMALL-TOWN DINER.

Glover: AND THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN IS TO -- IN BOSWELL'S FAVOR, THIS IS LOOKING LIKE A PRETTY GOOD DEMOCRATIC YEAR, AND SO THAT'S GOING TO BE A LITTLE BIT OF WIND IN BOSWELL'S SAILS. BUSH'S NUMBERS ARE DOWN. CONGRESS'S NUMBERS ARE DOWN SO THAT WILL HELP BOSWELL.

Yepsen: LISTEN, THANKS EVERYBODY. AS JOHN MCLAUGHLIN ALWAYS SAYS, 'WE GOTTA GET OUT.' SO THANKS. AND THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' WE RETURN NEXT WEEKEND AT OUR REGULAR AIRTIMES: FRIDAY AT 7:30 P.M., AND SUNDAY AT 11:30 A.M. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER' SITTING IN FOR DEAN BORG WHO RETURNS NEXT WEEK. THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC DIVISION.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

Tags: Iowa