Top Ron Paul Campaign Aides Found Guilty On All Counts

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.34.08 PM
Photo by Dave Davidson –

As Donald Trump was putting an end to the primary phase of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign this week, a federal court concluded its criminal trial against three Republican campaign operatives for their underhanded and shady dealings in the previous presidential contest.

Jurors found Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign chairman, John Tate, Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign manager, and Dimitri Kesari, Paul’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, guilty of charges ranging for conspiracy to causing false records and campaign expenditures. The trio of national political operatives who once made up Paul’s inner political circle was tried in federal court in Iowa and is now awaiting sentencing.

The scheme involved paying Kent Sorenson, a former Iowa legislator and chairman of Michelle Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign, more than $73,000 to switch his allegiance to Ron Paul just days before the 2012 Iowa caucuses.   As a State Senator, Sorenson would be in violation of Iowa Senate rules if he accepted financial compensation from the Paul campaign, so the high-ranking Paul operatives concocted a scheme that paid Sorenson through vendors who did no work for the Paul campaign.

Sorenson resigned from the Iowa Senate in the fall of 2013. The following August, he pled guilty to one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report expenditures and one count of obstruction of justice for concealing. Sorenson is still awaiting sentencing for his part of the scheme, but his cooperation with federal prosecutors will now likely get him a more lenient sentence. Sorenson faces up to 25 years in prison for his involvement in the cover up.

The entire ordeal spans parts of two presidential campaigns and lasted almost six years. was the first to break the details of Sorenson’s involvement with the three senior members of Ron Paul’s campaign. While Sorenson was already dealing with an Iowa Senate Ethics complaint stemming from his financial compensation from the Bachmann campaign and the theft of a database belonging to an Iowa Homeschool organization, it was his involvement with the Paul campaign that ultimately brought him down.

The scandal has been national news and has even caused problems in the 2016 Republican race for president. Benton and Tate led a Super PAC that was supportive of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s bid before he dropped out of the race. Benton is also currently involved in a pro-Trump Super PAC. Needless to say, being convicted of multiple crimes will make it impossible to maintain his involvement in any political committee.

While was responsible for shedding light on this scandal, justice would have never been served, and thus the credibility of our political process would not have been preserved, had it not been for Dennis Fusaro, the primary source of all the evidence the entire case was built upon.

Fusaro was Ron Paul’s national field director in 2008. He was also the former Executive Director of Iowans for Right to Work Committee and the National Right to Work Committee. He had worked with all those involved in the cover-up, including Sorenson, from his time working in Iowa politics.

“This is not a happy moment for me or anyone concerned with true Liberty,” Fusaro said after being reached for comment after the guilty verdict. “I tried to get Jesse Benton to come clean on his own and clean it up internally, but instead I was mocked and insulted by him.”

“The cover-up is always worse than the crime,” Fusaro added. “They could have told the truth to the voters of Iowa that Kent Sorenson had been paid or offered payment to endorse Ron Paul. They could have thumbed their noses at the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee and made a First Amendment stand over the right to associate for Kent Sorenson. Instead they chose to take on the federal government.”

Another integral figure in exposing this scheme was former State Senator Sandy Greiner. While Republican leaders in the Iowa Senate wished to quietly sweep Sorenson’s transgressions under the rug, it was Greiner who stood alone against her own party and provided the critical fourth vote on the Senate Ethics Committee to appoint an independent investigator to look into Sorenson’s dealings with both presidential campaigns.

On Facebook on Thursday afternoon, Greiner referred to the situation as, “The darkest days of my entire Legislative career.” Greiner added, “I really felt an investigation by Independent Counsel was the only way to clear the air. I take no joy in the outcome.”

After the Senate Ethics Committee voted in favor of appointing independent counsel who would have subpoena power, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court appointed Des Moines attorney Mark E. Weinhardt to investigate. It was his 556-page report that came out in October of 2013, just two months after broke the story, that lead forced Sorenson to resign. Soon after, federal authorities charged those involved with scheme for their involvement.

For many Iowans, this story began and ended with Kent Sorenson.   While the this entire case involved him, Thursday’s guilty verdicts prove that the scandal was much bigger than just a State Senator getting paid under the table for an endorsement. While it may have seemed at times that there was an effort to “get” Sorenson, the truth of the matter is that he was the only way expose the corruption in at the highest levels of a presidential campaign.

Not only has justice been served, but hopefully the integrity of the political process has also been preserved.




Paul Family Reunion Scheduled for a Federal Court Room in Iowa?

Rand Paul Mason City 2014 (359)-X3According to recent reports, Ron Paul is likely to be headed to Iowa soon, but the trip is not to campaign for his son, Rand, who is mounting a 2016 presidential campaign. Federal prosecutors may call the elder Paul to testify in a the case involving Jesse Benton, a political operative who served as Paul’s campaign chairman in 2012, and is married to his grand daughter.

Benton was indicted in August on charges of conspiracy, obstructing an investigation, and submitting false reports to the Federal Election Commission. He is also charged with providing the FBI with false information. All of the charges stem from the efforts the Paul campaign used to lure Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson away from Michelle Bachmann’s campaign in the final days before the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

The campaign paid Sorenson $73,000 in wire transfers through a Maryland business named ICT, Inc. The move was necessary because, under the rules of the Iowa Senate, Sorenson could not be compensated by a presidential campaign. In satisfying Sorenson’s need to not be paid by a campaign committee, the Paul campaign also violated FEC laws for not being forthright in disclosing that it was indeed paying Sorenson for his support and work on the campaign.

Before the indictment, Benton was leading the Super PAC in support of Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign along with John Tate, who has also been indicted for the same violations. Tate served as Ron Paul’s campaign manger in 2012, and before that, he headed the Campaign for Liberty. It was reported that Benton had relinquished his control of the America’s Liberty PAC in order to deal with his legal defense, but the group’s website still lists Tate as it’s founder and president.

Benton’s mother-in-law (and Ron Paul’s daughter), Lori Pyeatt, is also expected to accompany her father to Des Moines when the trial begins in a few weeks. Pyeatt served as the treasurer of her father’s 2012 campaign.   Federal prosecutors reportedly have told the judge that they plan to call for the former congressman and presidential candidate and his daughter to testify.

Also expected to make an appearance during Benton and Tate’s trial are Doug Stafford and Mike Rothfeld. Stafford was Rand Paul’s Chief-of-Staff in the U.S. Senate before becoming the chief strategist for his 2016 campaign. Before being part of the Paul political machine, Stafford worked for the National Right to Work committee.

Rothfeld is the founder of Virginia-based Saber Communications, which specializes in mail, phone, and internet communications and fundraising. Like Stafford, Rothfeld has a deep roots with the National Right to Work Committee where he focused on direct mail, phone, and internet marketing. Rothfeld and Stafford are key figures in Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

Needless to say, anytime members of your campaign team or political machine are in federal court is a bad time for a candidate. The fact that this not only involves some of Rand Paul’s key operatives, but also his family, means things could get pretty messy for Paul who is currently polling at 3.5 percent nationally.

Paul has only campaigned in Iowa for twelve days this calendar year. His campaign’s presence in Iowa is much different from that of his father’s past two presidential bids. While poor poll number and struggles raising money for the campaign are reasons for concern, Paul also has to worry about his re-election bid in his home state of Kentucky. Paul has to be careful that the legal troubles of some of his close associates and family don’t make life difficult for him on the campaign trail. If he’s not careful, he could be the next candidate out the door.

Photo bt Dave Davidson –

The Republican Quest for Authenticity

Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, John KasichI spend an inordinate amount of time talking to reporters about the presidential race every day of the week. Twitter is always a good tool to see what’s trending out there politically, but so are the reporters that frequently call my cell phone.

The current topic of conversation is the rise of the political outsiders, Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina and the demise of candidates like Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. We live in an instant gratification society, and political news coverage is no different.   The second the first presidential debate was in the books, the news media was ready for the polls to come out to announce who won and who lost.

The national media does a good job of telling us who said what or what the candidates did on a certain day, but what they typically miss is the broader themes that are beginning to appear in the 2016 presidential campaign. For example, the media has just now figured out that voters have a hankering for a presidential candidate that that will challenge the status quo in Washington, and it doesn’t even matter if that person has ever held political office.

Many in the media act as if this is some kind of new phenomenon. The reality is that what’s going in the 2016 presidential contest isn’t new at all.

  • In 1988, Pat Robertson, a former Baptist minister who founded the Christian Broadcasting Network, finished ahead of a sitting Vice President in the 1988 Iowa caucuses.
  • In 1996, Pat Buchanan, a former communications director for President Reagan, defeated Bob Dole in the New Hampshire primary in 1996 and finished a close second to him in Iowa.
  • In 2000, Steve Forbes, a well-known businessman and magazine publisher, became a serious challenger to the presumptive Republican nominee in George W. Bush in Iowa.
  • In 2008 and 2012, Congressman Ron Paul mounted a serious challenge in Iowa by challenging the status quo in his final two presidential runs.

In every presidential cycle, there has been a political outsider who has run on being a true change agent. This is nothing new. The list above only includes those who actually had some success. There are plenty of other names that could be added like Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer and Herman Cain.

The caucus history books contain plenty of evidence that there has long been a desire in Iowa for nontraditional candidates. It should also not come as a surprise that there is an even greater appetite for a political outsider after John McCain and Mitt Romney did so poorly against Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Republicans want to win, and after seeing the “guys who can win” fail miserably in the last two elections, there is no desire to go down that road again.

This dynamic in the GOP race explains why someone like Jeb Bush has struggled to catch on. He has all the machinery and money a campaign could every hope for but what he lacks is something he cannot buy – grassroots support. We have also seen other candidates who once led in the polls eventually falter.

There was a time when Scott Walker led in polls nationally, not just here in Iowa. Walker is perceived to be a conservative-minded reformer who is willing to stand his ground on tough issues. Walker should be a natural fit in the current political environment, yet he has seen his support in Iowa plummet from 20 percent in early August to 11 percent today.

What could explain such a precipitous drop in the polls? Some claim it’s due to all the media attention that Trump receives on a daily basis. I contend it’s related to his performance in the Fox News debate. Walker’s debate performance was fine in the sense that he didn’t screw anything up, but he also didn’t display any signs that he’s the change agent that people perceived him as being before the debate.

Besides finding change agent, conservatives are also looking for a winning horse they can back. Again, Walker should be a natural choice, but articles like the one that appeared in the Washington Post on Monday clearly indicate that Walker’s not running as a conservative. The Post story includes a passage about Walker reassuring a wealthy donor that he will not push a social agenda as president.

It has always been my opinion that if Scott Walker ran for president as a conservative, he would find plenty of success. As we are now seeing he’s not running as a strong reform minded conservative and that is severely hurting him in a state like Iowa. In Iowa it’s not good enough to have the right position on an issue, evangelical voters here are looking for conviction on their issues, and they are not seeing that from Walker.

Another candidate who should be thriving in the current political environment is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul was supposed to be the most interesting candidate in the field as far as ideology is concerned, but his presence in Iowa has vanished along with his standing in the polls. Regardless of your opinion of Paul, it was expected that he would play hard in Iowa, a state where his father cultivated libertarian leaning activists for the past eight years.

Rand Paul isn’t even scheduled to visit the Iowa State Fair. Since June 1st, Paul has only spent four days in Iowa, and the last time he was here was August 1st for a couple of low-key events in eastern Iowa. In the Fox News debate, Paul chose to go after Donald Trump, which may be popular with the media, but it doesn’t really make you appear to be much of a change agent. Paul is the last person who should be chastising Trump for not being a traditional Republican because the same can be said of all the new people who his father got to caucus and participate in party activities in Iowa.

The 2016 Republican race for president hasn’t been all that difficult to read. Republicans are anxious to occupy the White House again, but unlike previous election years they are not going to be swayed by the conventional wisdom of the establishment or surrender to an establishment candidate’s large bankroll either.

Despite the mood of the Republican electorate, it’s surprising how many of the 2016 presidential candidates are taking steps to become more like the failed nominees of the past than something more authentic. One doesn’t need to be spastic and ultra conservative to be authentic. While the media focuses on a candidate like Trump, John Kasich is also gaining momentum.

I would argue that Republicans are looking for authenticity more than anything else in 2016. Some candidates have figured that out. The others are falling in the polls.

Rand Paul’s Iowa Campaign Should Make the Rest of the GOP Field Nervous

Rand and Craig

As the old saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has only attended two multi-candidate events in Iowa this year – the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition event in April and the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner in May.

With a field of 16 Republican presidential candidates, it’s easy to forget about candidates when they are not campaigning in your state, and skipping out on a number of high-profile evens can make it seem like the candidates who are not attending are not all that active in Iowa. Yet, just because a candidate isn’t taking the time to share a stage with their many competitors doesn’t mean they are not laying the groundwork for a formidable Iowa caucus campaign.

Senator Rand Paul isn’t your typical Republican. His libertarian leanings and focus on the federal government’s intrusion in people’s lives sets him apart from most, if not the rest of the huge field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination. Paul might not be riding the so-called circuit like his many of his contemporaries seem content in doing, but make no mistake, he is running a formidable caucus campaign in Iowa.

Paul has made five trips to Iowa since officially launching his bid for the Republican nomination for president in April. While Paul might not be showing up at every multi-candidate event in the state, he’s campaigned in 19 counties across the state in 2015. That’s just six fewer than Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum who have visited 25 counties in Iowa this calendar year. What’s more impressive is how well orchestrated the Paul campaign events are.

Last week, I attended Paul’s campaign event in Poweshiek County. The event was interesting to me for a number of reasons. First, Craig Lang, the former President of the Iowa Farm Bureau, hosted the event at one of his son’s farms. Second, the event was in Poweshiek County, a place I called home eight years. Third, the event was on a gravel road. A presidential event in the middle of the day basically in the middle of nowhere is always going to get me to circle the event on my calendar.

I was impressed with the turnout. About 50 or so people attended the event, and even though this wasn’t your typical campaign event, the mechanics the Paul campaign is deploying in Iowa was easy to see. First, the Paul campaign is wisely using Eventbrite to ticket their campaign events. Getting people to pre-register only makes the task of collecting data from the event easier. The event was well staffed, but the event itself was entirely reminiscent of Steve Forbes’ campaign events in the 2000 race.

As Paul arrived to the venue and talked briefly to the event host and posed for pictures with the Lang family, Steve Grubbs, who signed on with Paul a year ago to help lead his effort in Iowa, had everyone in attendance line up so they could meet the candidate personally and pose for a quick snapshot taken by Grubbs himself. After shaking hands and posing for pictures, the event kicked off with a video of Paul’s wife Kelley, who talked about how they met and the life they have together. Paul then took center stage, delivered his remarks, and took some questions. Before the event closed, Grubbs grabbed the microphone and enticed people to join the campaign, and if they pledged their support today, they got a snazzy Rand Paul Iowa lapel pin.

This isn’t just similar to what Forbes did back in 1999, it’s exactly the same thing. Heck, Paul is even out there pushing a smart 14.5 percent flat tax proposal. Something else that was similar was the campaign literature. The Forbes campaign was always flush with books, handouts, signage, and bumper stickers. I was just standing around with my camera and a staffer came up and gave me 20-page pamphlet on that explains who Senator Paul is and what his plan is to, “Defeat the Washington Machine and Unleash the American Dream.”

Last July, I wrote the following about Grubbs going to work for Paul:

  • If Grubbs understands one thing really well about caucus campaigns, it’s the mechanics of getting people to attend events and then getting people to volunteer to get involved in a campaign.  This is why Paul’s hiring of Steve Grubbs is a brilliant move.  Should Rand Paul decide to run for president in 2016, he can’t simply run the same style of campaign his father ran in Iowa in 2008 and 2012.
  • By hiring Grubbs, the Paul political operation is acknowledging that they understand that they have to approach Iowa differently than Ron Paul did.  There was nothing wrong with Ron Paul’s campaign, but Rand Paul has more opportunities to expand his father’s existing network.
  • While I think getting Grubbs is a brilliant move for Rand Paul, I think it’s equally important that he got him onboard early.  Grubbs can help Paul shape his approach to Iowa, which is incredibly important.  Grubbs was on-board for Forbes early for the 2000 race, and he was able to make a big impact.  Grubbs was brought on board late for Herman Cain in 2012, and thus his impact wasn’t as great.  I’ll tell you this, had Grubbs been onboard with Cain early on and if Cain had followed his advice, I think Cain could have really done something in Iowa.

You can already see the positive influence that Grubbs has had on Paul’s campaign. The media often wonders if someone like Paul could be a mainstream Republican candidate because of his views, but I think what makes a candidate mainstream is how they approach a campaign and if they are capable of having a broad audience. Paul has succeeded in doing both in Iowa, and you are kidding yourself if you don’t think that Grubbs is partly responsible.

I’ve attended campaign events for most of the Republican candidates, and most of them are pretty laid back affairs, which if fine, but Rand Paul’s campaign events are better than anything I witnessed in the last caucus cycle and are at the top of the class this cycle.

Sometimes I think that too many Iowans put too much focus on a candidate doing the “Full Grassley,” which means campaigning in each of the state’s 99 counties. Hitting all 99 counties isn’t what matters. Just ask Michele Bachmann. She made it through all 99 in 2012. What matters is what you do with the time that you spend in each county.

I’ve been to campaign events where the candidate doesn’t even ask for people’s support. I’ve been to events where I’ve walked out wondering what the purpose of the event was. Sure, you’re running for president and this is an opportunity for people to kick the tires, but what good is it for the campaign if they don’t know who was there and they didn’t go through the process to see if the attendees will support them or not?

Paul’s campaign events, besides being really well attended, serve a number of purposes. First, they create an opportunity for people to get to meet him via the photo line and question and answer period. Second, the event educates people about his life and history. Third, each event ends with a strong pitch to join the campaign. If a campaign isn’t doing those things, it’s simply wasting time.

With Paul, I find myself occasionally speculating that he isn’t as active as maybe he should be. Yet seeing his campaign in action last Thursday just proves that his Iowa operation is a well-oiled machine. Paul also delivered a message at the event that most, if not all, Republicans would be supportive of and rally behind.

The question for Paul has always been whether he can grow his support beyond what his father did in Iowa in 2008 and 2012. I think that’s easily doable and likely to happen if he keeps running the type of campaign he currently is in Iowa. That’s good news for Paul, and it’s something that should make the rest of the field very nervous.


Photos by the one and only Craig Robinson –



The barn welcoming attendees.


Snap Grubbs
Camera man Steve Grubbs
Senator Paul learning about the Lang farm operation.
Craig Lang and Senator Paul walk past my AWESOME 2008 Toyota Camry!


Rand would be wise to embrace his libertarian roots

randcpAs Kentucky Senator Rand Paul launches his presidential campaign, the immediate question that will be on everybody’s mind is, can he do something his father couldn’t do in two attempts – win the Iowa Caucuses ?

There are obvious benefits he will receive from Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Rand Paul will inherit a national fundraising base and grassroots network in a number of early states, but he will also benefit from a seasoned national staff in addition to a handful of Iowans that include former Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker and former Iowa GOP Co-Chairman David Fischer. Spiker and Fischer proved in 2012 that they know what they are doing when it comes to an Iowa caucus campaign.

A number of recent national news articles have commented on the “balancing act” that Paul is attempting in his presidential campaign as he tries to keep the libertarian leaning Republicans his father energized while also reaching out to more mainstream Republicans. As the Republican Party has become more hawkish over the past six months in regards to Iran and the Middle East, Paul’s balancing act has become more difficult.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that a conservative group called The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America is already launching a campaign that essentially says that when it comes to dealing with Iran, Senator Paul is no different than Obama. If you think this will be some short-term effort just to cause Paul some grief as he announces his presidential campaign, think again. There will be plenty of money poured into the effort, and it’s likely that it will be around throughout the campaign.

Running a campaign that broadens one’s reach is always a good endeavor. Candidates do it all the time. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum want to appeal to more people than just social conservatives. Jeb Bush wants to appeal to conservative Republicans as much as he appeals to the moderate wing of the Republican Party. However, just because it’s a well-intentioned endeavor doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work.

At the end of the day, a candidate’s true colors will always show through. No matter how hard a guy like Santorum tries to focus on manufacturing and rebuilding the middle class in America, he will always be known as one of the more staunch social conservatives in the race. It might not be fair, but it is reality.

In this case, Senator Paul will either have to distance himself from his father’s libertarian views or embrace them. Sure, it would be nice to appeal to both segments of the Republican Party, but at the end of the day, or in this case, in the final months before the caucuses, Paul will have to make a choice.

First and foremost, Senator Paul needs to be true to himself. In my opinion, Paul’s best play for his presidential aspirations is to embrace his libertarian roots. Instead of giving you one good reason, how about we start with 26,036 reasons. That is the number of votes that Ron Paul received in Iowa in 2012. In a crowded GOP field that features multiple establishment candidates and scads of social conservatives, instead of 26,036 votes being good for third place in 2012, it may be enough to win the Iowa Caucuses outright in 2016.

What Ron Paul accomplished in 2012 is still impressive. The 26,036 votes account for nearly 22 percent of the entire caucuses vote. Ron Paul also won 16 counties in 2012, but finished a strong second in some of the states more populated counties like Dubuque, Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Story.

I also don’t think that Senator Paul has to shy away from his father’s libertarian brand of politics to increase his vote share. One of the main reasons why Ron Paul was able to grow his support in Iowa wasn’t just because he ran a better campaign, but because the issues that he was touting became more main-stream with Republican voters. Many of those same issues remain popular.

Another reason why Paul will naturally attract more voters than his father is his age. At 52, Senator Paul isn’t viewed as some crazy old man running for president, like his father unfortunately was often categorized as being. Essentially, what Senator Paul needs to try to accomplish is to be the same as his father on the issues but with more appealing packaging.

The way for Rand Paul to expand his network isn’t to run away for his father, it’s to embrace his father. Be the libertarian in the race. Not only will it provide Senator Paul with a big base of support, but it will also allow him to better message to younger voters while also appealing to the more contrarian voter who is always looking for a good fight.

Survey the recent headlines. There are signs of weakness from Paul as he tries to be all things to all people. Doing so not only generates negative news articles, but also allows his opponents to easily attack him. However, if Paul were to embrace his libertarian roots, there are not many candidates in the field that have what it takes to win that kind of argument or wage the type of campaign it would take to beat him.

The more libertarian-leaning Senator Paul becomes, the better his odds of winning Iowa.


Photo by Dave Davidson –

Santorum Begins to Assemble His Iowa Team

Santorum2When it comes to presidential politics in Iowa, it’s all about relationships. This is something that previous caucus winners know well. Even though former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum languished in the polls for most of the 2011, that didn’t stop him from building meaningful relationships across the state.

One of the people Santorum created a strong bond with was State Representative Walt Rogers from Cedar Falls. Rogers was one of the first legislators to endorse Santorum in July of 2011. Rogers told that he had received several inquiries from 2012 presidential candidates, but Santorum’s personal touch made the difference.

“Rick was the only one who came to my house, met my family and took a real interest in who I was as a legislator,” Rogers told “We talked about family, faith, music, and issues.  My kids loved him.  I was impressed with his knowledge of issues, and his mature, practical way of governing.”

The relationship that was formed almost four years ago is once again paying dividends for Santorum. Today Santorum will announce that Rogers has signed on to lead his Iowa efforts in advance of a 2016 presidential campaign. Rogers, an Assistant Majority Leader in the Iowa State House, will serve as Chairman of Patriot Voices in Iowa. Patriot Voices is the grassroots organization that Santorum formed following his 2012 president run.

Rogers believes he’s a natural fit for Santorum. “We are very much alike as public servants, and he will work as hard as I will,” Rogers explained. “I will be actively working with his team on strategy, recruitment, Iowa contacts, issues and events. If I am fully on board something, I’m a pretty good player/coach,” Rogers added. Rogers explained that he will not be employed by Patriot Voices, but could potentially be in the future as the Iowa session winds down.

Patriot Voices provided the press release announcing Rogers over the weekend.

“I am excited to announce the addition of Walt Rogers to our growing Iowa team,” Senator Santorum said. “I am confident that his support today will again be a terrific lift for our efforts in the Hawkeye State.”

Santorum added, “Like me, Walt understands the importance of not just being a Party of business-owners, but being a Party that fights for the worker and hard-working families.  Our movement cannot win unless we recognize that the 90% of Americans who do not own their own business and the 70% of Americans who do not have a college degree need a champion.  I am prepared to fight for them and I am thrilled to have Walt Rogers standing side-by-side with me in Iowa.”

It’s obvious that relationships matter in states like Iowa, but it also helps when someone who signs on to work with a potential candidate is actually a natural fit. Rogers gives Santorum more than just a point of contact, he gives Santorum an Iowa point person who knows what caucus politics is all about. Rogers isn’t the type of guy who’s going to be touted in a press release and never heard from again. He’s the type of guy who will pour ever thing he’s got to help Santorum be successful.

Rogers also knows that Santorum will have to run a much different race in Iowa to be successful in 2016. “Rick won the Iowa caucus last time without spending much money,” Rogers noted. “This time if he gets in, he will work harder, have a better team, be better funded, and have a better strategy.”

Rogers also explained that Iowans don’t care about poll numbers or who the 24-hour news networks are currently focused on. “Iowans want the best qualified, most experienced person to be their President.  I’m convinced Rick is that person.” Rogers understands that Santorum will once again be outspent by other candidates just like he was in 2012, but he noted that Iowa has a history of weeding out candidates who are not ready for the scrutiny that a presidential campaign brings.

Santorum’s blue-collar conservatism helped him win a large numbers of rural counties across the state in 2012, but with the potential of a much larger field and candidates like Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and a revitalized Rick Perry who could all cut into Santorum’s base, Rogers and Santorum’s Iowa team will need to better organize the state’s larger communities. Rogers, who represents part of Black Hawk County, the state’s fourth most populous county, should be able to help Santorum better sell his message in more metropolitan areas.

Santorum finished third in Black Hawk County in 2012, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney edged Santorum by a little more than 100 votes. It’s not that Santorum did poorly in the more urban counties in 2012 – he was actually surprisingly competitive all across the state. But for Santorum to be successful in 2016, he will need to find an urban stronghold to go with his strong rural strategy. With Rogers on-board and involved early, Black Hawk County looks like an obvious place to start.

Below is the release that Patriot Voices will be sending out to announce Rogers:

Santorum and Patriot Voices announces Walt Rogers as Iowa Chairman

Iowa House Assistant Majority Leader to lead Patriot Voices grassroots efforts

VERONA, PA – Winner of the 2012 Iowa Republican Caucus, former U.S. Senator, and Chairman of Patriot Voices Rick Santorum announced today that Assistant Majority Leader of the Iowa State House, Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls), will serve as Chairman of Patriot Voices in Iowa.

Rick Santorum said: “I am excited to announce the addition of Walt Rogers to our growing Iowa team and I am confident that his support today will again be a terrific lift for our efforts in the Hawkeye State. Like me, Walt understands the importance of not just being a Party of business-owners, but being a Party that fights for the worker and hard-working families. Our movement cannot win unless we recognize that the 90% of Americans who do not own their own business and the 70% of Americans who do not have a college degree need a champion. I am prepared to fight for them and I am thrilled to have Walt Rogers standing side-by-side with me in Iowa.”

Walt Rogers said: “I am thrilled to be a part of Senator Santorum’s efforts to fight for the American worker and family here in Iowa today. Senator Santorum has been consistent and passionate in his efforts to fight for hard-working families. This is exactly the type of message that resonates here in Iowa, and it is why he defied the Beltway pundits to win our Caucus in 2012. Hard-working Iowa families understand that Rick Santorum is a champion for them and I am looking forward to helping Senator Santorum take this message all across Iowa.”

Walt Rogers currently represents the Cedar Falls area in the Iowa State Legislature, being elected by his peers to serve as Assistant Majority Leader, trusting him to manage some of the House’s toughest legislation including a government transparency bill that had stalled in the legislature for seven years. Rogers is a nationally sought-after leadership consultant. His work through board memberships in Safe and Drug Free Committee, Alternatives Pregnancy Center, My Waterloo Days and Love Cedar Valley has honed his leadership skills and given him an appreciation for local grassroots efforts. Rogers holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology from the University of Northern Iowa. He and his wife Jenny (Ridder) have three grown children and seven grandchildren.


Does Iowa Push Republican Candidates to the Right?

IowaLast weekend’s conservative confab in Iowa has once again drawn the ire of some national political pundits.  Cokie Roberts, a News Analyst for National Public Radio and frequent guest on ABC’s Sunday morning show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, is the latest to not only criticize the event held by Iowa Congressman Steve King and Citizens United, but to call for Republicans avoid Iowa altogether.

“I think Republicans should stay out of Iowa altogether,” Roberts said on This Week the day after the Iowa Freedom Summit. “What happens to them is that they get pushed so far to the right in those venues that it gives them a terrible time in the general election.”

Stephanopoulos agreed by saying the state hurt Romney in 2012.  Roberts went on to say, “It hurts them all. And, by the way, Steve King, who hosted this, is absolutely toxic in the Hispanic community. And if the Republicans want to get that vote, they shouldn’t be showing up at a Steve King event.”

Okay, let’s break this down.

Frist, I would like to know how Iowa hurt Romney in 2012.  Yes, it’s true that he ultimately didn’t win the Iowa Caucuses, but he lost to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by just a 34 votes.  Let’s also not forget that Romney avoided Iowa for much of 2011.  In fact, he really didn’t begin to engage in Iowa until a month or two in advance of the caucuses.

We also shouldn’t forget that Romney was declared the winner of the Iowa Caucuses on caucus night.  Sure, it was just a narrow victory, but a victory nonetheless.  It was significant because they initially got a victory despite shunning the state for almost an entire year.  More importantly, with Romney having a commanding lead in the New Hampshire primary, the Iowa win created a real sense of inevitability for him to win the Republican nomination.

It took two-and-a-half weeks for the Republican Party of Iowa to certify the vote and declare that Santorum actually won Iowa, not Romney.  That ordeal hurt Santorum, not Romney, and furthermore it does not discredit what Romney was able to do in Iowa with very little investment.

The 2012 caucuses proved that a national frontrunner and establishment candidate [Romney] can win Iowa if they run a disciplined campaign.  It also proved that hard work, dedication, and retail campaigning [Santorum] trumps huge amounts of money spent on television ads.  And let’s not forget that the 2012 Iowa caucuses proved that a libertarian candidate [Ron Paul] whose views don’t entirely matchup with mainstream Republican thought can do well if he or she works hard and organizes.

The results from the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses proved to the rest of the country that, despite all of the negative things that are said about the caucuses, Iowa is a competitive state.  We saw three candidates, with three different approaches, who represent three different wings of the Republican Party all do extremely well.  We might not be diverse when it comes to color or culture, but when it comes to the diversity of thought, Iowa proved the naysayers wrong.

Second, Cokie Roberts is misinformed or naive if she thinks that the Iowa caucuses push candidates to the right.  As mentioned earlier, the results from 2012 already show that a moderate establishment candidate, a social conservative, and a libertarian type candidate can all build enough support in Iowa to win the caucuses.  The one instance that the media likes to drag out from the 2012 campaign to prove their point is Mitt Romney’s position on illegal immigration.

Romney said that he supported a policy of “self deportation” in a January 24th presidential debate in 2012.  Below is the exchange.

“Governor Romney, there is one thing I’m confused about. You say you don’t want to go and round up people and deport them, but you also say that they would have to go back to their home countries and then apply for citizenship. So, if you don’t deport them, how do you send them home?”

Romney answered, “We’re not going to round people up.” He went on to explain that financially struggling undocumented immigrants would choose to return to their home countries of their own volition. “The answer is self-deportation,” Romney stated, “which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.”

So let me get this straight.  Iowa is to blame for Romney’s right of center views on immigration, but he didn’t role out his “self deportation” line until three weeks AFTER the Iowa Caucuses in a debate in FLORIDA.  I’ve never understood how Iowa pushed Romney to the right when he hardly campaigned here anyway.  I don’t doubt that Romney and his campaign advisers chose to that position for strategic reasons, but I never thought it had anything to do with Iowa because they never made it an issue here.

I understand that regardless of what transpires, the caucuses will always be criticized by someone or some campaign.  It’s just the nature of politics.  My only request of those in the media who like to criticize the Iowa Caucuses is for them to actually come here so that they can have an informed opinion of our state and process. I’ve seen a lot of nationally known reporters in Iowa, but I’ve never seen Cokie Roberts.

If you are going to offer an opinion on something, it should be an informed opinion.

Immigration was discussed at last week’s Iowa Freedom Summit, but not all the candidates talked about it.  Scott Walker didn’t talk about it.  Neither did Dr. Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, or Carly Fiorina.  You wouldn’t think that if you had listened to some of the coverage of the event.  As I reminded reporters before the event, Congressman King doesn’t give the candidates talking points and say, “here, read this.”  It’s up to each candidate to deliver the message he or she wants to provide.  If you actually paid attention to the event this past weekend, that was pretty clear.  Maybe Cokie Roberts only watched the highlights on the Jon Stewart show, which wouldn’t surprise me.

Fact Check: Has the Iowa Straw Has Been an Accurate Indicator of Success?

IowaThe much-discussed Iowa Straw Poll dominated the news last week.  At it’s quarterly meeting on Saturday, the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee voted unanimously to once again hold the event in August.  The vote came a few days after a legal opinion from the Republican National Committee’s legal counsel concluded that the event did not violate any RNC rules in any way.

Over the past few months, the national media once again went out of its way to discredit the event.  The most frequent criticism was that the event is not an accurate indicator of who will win the Republican nomination or even fare well in the Iowa Caucuses.

Nobody has ever claimed that the Iowa Straw Poll was an indicator of who will win the Republican nomination.  Heck, not even the caucuses are known for doing that.  What the Straw Poll and the caucuses have done so well over their history is winnow the field of candidates.   This allows the other early states to choose from a much narrower field of candidates, and that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, with fewer debates as a result of new RNC rules, the media and voters alike will be clamoring for something to help narrow what could be a crowded field of GOP presidential candidates.

Even though Michele Bachmann flamed out after winning the Straw Poll in 2011, it’s not fair to suggest that the event doesn’t give us a glimpse of what to expect in the caucuses.  If you take out Bachmann and Phil Gramm’s first place finishes in 2011 and 1995 respectively, the Straw Poll has actually been a solid indicator of what’s going on in Iowa in advance of the caucuses.

The media seems to think that the only way for the Straw Poll to be legitimate is if the winner of the event goes on to win the caucuses.  The truth is that, in the six Straw Polls that have been conducted over the years, the candidates who finished first and second in Ames finished first or second in the caucuses four times.

Phil Gramm’s implosion in 1995 was a result of the fact that he got beat by Pat Buchannan in the Louisiana caucuses that occurred before the Iowa caucuses that year.  The loss killed Gramm’s chances in Iowa.  Pat Buchannan, who finished third in Ames in 1995, beat Gramm in the Louisiana caucuses and finished second in Iowa. I would say that from 1979 through 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll has been extremely accurate in predicting a candidate’s Iowa success.  It’s not the Straw Poll’s fault that Gramm made a poor decision in playing in Louisiana.

So what about 2011?  First, the last two Straw Polls have seen the national frontrunners not participate, which is one of the big problems the Iowa GOP must fix.  Second, the field of candidates in the past two presidential election cycles has remained turbulent until after the Straw Poll.  Fred Thompson jumped into the race after the 2007 Straw Poll, and Texas Governor Rick Perry jumped into the race on the same day as the 2011 Straw Poll.  Every time a formidable candidate either drops out or joins the race, it’s going to shake things up.

What about Bachmann?  Bachmann’s first place finish in Ames and her sixth place finish in the caucuses is also problematic for the Iowa GOP.  Bachmann treated Ames just like it was an actual primary.  Forget the fact that she had a huge tent, country music acts, and state fair food because that stuff doesn’t tell you how she won.  The Bachmann campaign spent a ton of money on direct mail, telemarketing, and radio and TV ads all in an effort to boost turnout for Ames.

The Bachmann plan worked because her competition in Ames was rather weak.  Tim Pawlenty provided the most serious challenge to Bachmann in Iowa at the time.  Not only did Bachmann kill him in a Fox News debate just days before the Straw Poll, but everyone and their brother knew that Pawlenty’s campaign was in serious trouble.  It’s hard to believe now, but Michele Bachmann was running the most legitimate campaign in Iowa in August of 2011.

Bachmann’s demise in Iowa occurred because after the event, she turned into a diva, which was on full display in Waterloo the day after the Straw Poll.  The fact that Bachmann exhausted all of her resources in Ames combined with her repeated gaffes that fall explains why the campaign’s fundraising dried up.  The Bachmann campaign was counting on a huge bounce out of Ames, not in just polling, but in her grassroots organization and fundraising.  Instead of a bounce, it was a thud.  It also didn’t help that Bachmann’s Iowa Campaign Chairman, publicly quit her campaign right before the caucuses.  Like her campaign, the ordeal with Kent Sorenson turned into a soap opera.

Even with Bachmann’s demise after August, the 2011 Straw Poll showed that Ron Paul was a legitimate candidate in Iowa.  Paul finished second in Ames. People never acknowledge how significant his showing was that day because the focus has always been on Bachmann.  I bet most Iowans wouldn’t believe that Ron Paul received more votes in the 2011 Straw Poll than Romney garnered in Ames four years earlier.  Paul finished third in the caucuses, but with an impressive 21 percent of the vote.  Paul’s finish was not a surprise on caucus night because we saw his strength in Ames.  The surprise was Santorum, the 4th place finisher in Ames, who caught fire in the final weeks before the caucuses.

The Iowa Straw Poll has its downside, but the argument that it is not an early indicator of a candidate’s success in Iowa is just wrong.  In 1999, the Straw Poll was a contest between George W. Bush and Steve Forbes, a precursor to the caucuses that would follow.  In 2007, Straw Poll was a battle between Romney and Huckabee.  The same two candidates battled it out for the caucuses.

Bachmann’s demise shouldn’t diminish the storied history of the Iowa Straw Poll.  Even if the national frontrunner avoids the event in 2016, the event will once again provide us an indication as to who are the real contenders in Iowa and who are simply pretenders.

One final thought.  Perhaps the best salesperson for the Iowa Straw Poll is it’s most famous victor, President George W. Bush.  He is what he had to say about the event.

Two months ago, when my Iowa supporters convinced me to participate in this straw poll, some pundits said I had nothing to gain and potentially a lot to lose.  Well thanks to you, we gained a lot.  We have accomplished what we set out to do.  We jump-started our grassroots organization for the main event, the Iowa caucuses.  Today was also a great day for the Republican Party of Iowa.  There is a new energy in this state, there is a new enthusiasm in this state.  And this new energy will help Republicans take back the White House in the year 2000.

The winner today was not just George W. Bush.  It was the Republican Party and our great ideas.  It was the democratic process.  This is a great festival of democracy that we participated in today.  I want you to know this is just the beginning.  I have a lot of work to do.  But the victory in Iowa put me on the road to earning the nomination of the Republican Party.

George W. Bush
August 14, 1999


Iowa House Republicans On The Move

With the potential for a strong Republican year at the ballot box, some Republicans quietly grumbled when Iowa House Republicans didn’t field candidates in some districts across the state in the spring. The response to the complaint was that quality would serve the Republican cause in the Iowa House better than shear quantity. Months later, there are now signs of that quality.

It’s not just the quality of the candidates that people should get excited about, it’s the quality of the TV ads that these Iowa House candidates are running. Gone are the days when all the ads for candidates across the state were filmed at the same location regardless of where each candidate called home. Instead, each of these ads are filmed on location and tell a story unique to each candidate.

In many ways, I think the TV ads that the House Republicans are currently airing are just as good or better than the ads we are seeing out of the congressional candidates in Iowa. It’s a positive sign, and the leadership team of Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer deserves credit for helping their candidates stand out in a political cycle where television sets around the state are inundated with non-stop campaign ads.

The ads also allow us to focus on which seats House Republicans view as competitive on November 4th. Here are the ads and a snapshot of each race where House Republicans are on TV.

House District 12

This is a legislative district that Rod Roberts held for Republicans for a decade that is mostly made up of the community of Carroll. Republicans nominated a weak candidate in 2010 to replace Roberts, who chose to run for governor that year, and Democrat Dan Muhlbauer won the election despite it being a fantastic year for Republicans. Muhlbauer was easily re-elected in 2012, but has a tough race on his hands this year.

After redistricting in 2012, House District 12 now has a Republican edge in voter registration. There are currently 6,224 registered Republicans and 5,794 registered Democrats. This is much different than the district where Muhlbauer was elected in 2010, which had a 1,693 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

The Republican candidate is Brian Best, a local businessman with strong roots in the community. Best’s family-owned business, which sells medical equipment and supplies, was founded in 2001.

House District 30

Republicans lost this legislative district in 2012, when first-term State Representative Kim Pearson chose not to seek re-election. Pearson, a lightning rod in the legislature, actually defeated an entrenched Democrat incumbent in a much more difficult district, but redistricting made the Altoona area House seat a much stronger seat for Republicans. The district currently has 7,189 registered Republicans, compared to 6,587 registered Democrats. In 2012, Democrat Joe Riding defeated his Republican opponent, Jim Carley, a Tea Party activist, by 720 votes.

With 2014 not being a presidential year and with favorable voter registration numbers, Republicans believe they have a shot at winning back this seat. Riding is a formidable candidate, as he has strong ties to the Altoona business community, but Republicans have an impressive, young, energetic candidate with deep roots in the community in Zach Nunn.

Nunn, a Senior Intelligence Office with the Air National Guard, has an impressive military background that includes being a Legislative Affairs Officer as well as a stint working at the White House. Needless to say, Nunn’s resume is top notch, and he seems like a natural as a political candidate.

House District 55

Democrat State Representative Roger Thomas has served eight terms in the Iowa House. House District 55 includes most of Winneshiek County and parts of Fayette and Clayton counties. Redistricting in 2012 made this a Republican district. There are currently 6,486 registered Republicans and 5,165 registered Democrats. Thomas was able to hold on to his seat in 2012, but he won re-election by only 200 votes.

Republicans have fielded an impressive candidate in Darrel Branhagen. Branhagen has had a distinguished military career, and served as a member of the Decorah city counsel and as the Winneshiek County Attorney.

House District 68

Republican State Representative Nick Wagner lost his 2012 re-election bid by just 117 votes. Wagner was defeated by Daniel Lundby, the son of Mary Lundby, a long-time Republican lawmaker from Linn County. House District 68 is the only race where Republicans are on TV in a district that has a Democrat registered voter advantage.

There are currently 6,175 registered Democrats in the district, compared to 5,850 registered Republicans. Linn County has proven to be difficult for Republican candidates, but once again, Republicans have found a candidate with an impressive military background.

Ken Rizer, the Republican running against Lundby this fall, is the Senior Vice President of Operations for Goodwill of the Heartland. Rizer served in the Air Force for 25 years. When he retired, he was Colonel and Base Commander of Andrews Air Force Base.

House District 82

Democrat Curt Hanson was elected to the Iowa House in a high-profile special election when he defeated Stephen Burgmeier by just 107 votes in September of 2009. Hanson was comfortably re-elected in 2012, but the district has a Republican voter registration advantage. There are currently 6,528 registered Republicans compared to 6,035 registered Democrats.

The Republican nominee this year is Jeff Shipley, a hardworking candidate who has previously served on the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee. Shipley supported Ron Paul’s candidacy for president in 2012, and while the pro-Paul faction that controlled the Republican Party of Iowa until earlier this year was widely criticized, Shipley’s politics is a good fit for a legislative district, which includes most of Jefferson County and all of Davis and Van Buren counties.

House District 95

State Representative Quentin Stanerson won his seat in the Iowa House in 2012 by just 200 votes. Stanerson is the only incumbent Republican who is on this list, but his rural Linn County district isn’t necessarily the easiest district to run in. Republicans do have a slight voter registration advantage in the district. There are 6,056 registered Republicans and 5,934 registered Democrats.

House District 97

With the retirement of State Representative Steve Olson, Republicans are eager to hold on to the rural Scott and Clinton County district he has held since 2003. The District has a 573-registered voter advantage for Republicans. The Republican candidate is Norlin Mommsen, a well-known farmer who is a good fit for the mostly rural district.

Former Iowa GOP Executive Director Walks Away With $38k – Leaves RPI Broke

Bierfeldt RPIA March press release announcing the resignation of A.J. Spiker as chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI) boasted, “Spiker leaves the Republican Party of Iowa with more than $300,000 cash on hand, zero debt and with a voter registration advantage for Republicans over the Iowa Democratic Party.”

However, the June campaign finance report that the Iowa GOP filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the weekend shows that just four months later the party was effectively broke. The Iowa GOP showed a little more than $300,000 in the bank in its federal account at the end of 2013, but since then the party’s bottom line has plummeted to just over $11,000.

At the beginning of June, RPI had a balance of $130,399.15 cash on hand, according to documents it filed with the FEC. The Iowa GOP took in $29,000, which included $17,500 from the Republican National Committee in June, but expended $148,783 from its federal account. This left the party with just $11,219 in its federal account—the lowest ending balance since Dec. 1999.

It’s been well documented that fundraising under Spiker’s leadership was anemic, and it certainly didn’t improve under Danny Carroll’s brief chairmanship. It’s apparent that Carroll conducted no fundraising of consequence during the two-and-a-half months that he led the party.

Perhaps more disturbing than the lack of fundraising at RPI was the complete lack of controls on spending during Carroll’s brief tenure. During the final three weeks of Carroll’s chairmanship, Steve Bierfeldt—Spiker’s hand-picked executive director—received roughly $38,000 in payments after taxes.

Bierfeldt’s regular bi-monthly salary disbursement was $2,831.44, according to past FEC reports. But in June he was paid sums of $8,590.91 on May 23, $15,283.48 on June 5, $11,295.28 on June 13, and $2,831.44 on June 20.

Republican activists and operatives have heard rumors that Carroll provided Bierfelt a severance bonus, supposedly hoping that it would facilitate a seamless transition. However, the new administration struggled to obtain correct passwords to social media accounts, the party’s website, email accounts, and financial information.

Bierfeldt, who was well compensated as the party’s executive director, wrote on his personal blog that he planned to travel the world after his job ended. His posts seem to indicate no remorse for an apparent premeditated effort to drain the party’s finances to finance a whirlwind trip around the globe.

Bierfeldt started writing more about his travel plans around the time of the January precinct caucuses, when it became clear that Gov. Terry Branstad’s campaign had aggressively organized its supporters to caucus and advance as delegates.

“When the current job I have comes to it’s conclusion, whenever that may be, I’ve decided I am going to travel around the world. For at least one year. This isn’t something I’m just considering, or I think might be fun, or something I’ll give serious decision [sic] to… This is something that I’ve decided. It’s going to happen. And I feel great about it.” Bierfeldt wrote in a January 27 post.

He recapped his plan less than a month ago, particularly to “save up money specifically for this trip,” and he wrote that his voyage had begun.

Around December/January of 2014, I decided that when my primary job finished, I’d travel the world for (at least) a year. I made it one of my major goals to save up money specifically for this trip. Now that that job has finished, I’ve been traveling a bit with plans to travel even more,” Bierfeldt wrote in a July 19 post.

Even before that, his writing makes clear that a significant chunk of his attention was focused on activities outside of the Iowa GOP, and—ironically—Bierfeldt pitched himself as an expert fundraiser at the same time the state party was routinely burning through more money in a month than it raised.

Bierfeldt authored an e-book called “How to Raise $1,000 in a Single Day” according to a June 2 blog post, the day before Iowa’s primary elections. Bierfeldt’s chutzpah is shocking considering the state of disarray in which he left RPI’s finances.

“I’ve asked for hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, even as much as a quarter of a million dollars. And you know what? More often than not, I’ve gotten it!” he wrote on page 5 of his ebook. “It’s not because I know some secret handshake or Jedi mind trick… I practice the very basic skills that allow activists, businessmen and candidates to raise money quickly and effective [sic].”

Even though Bierfeldt was handsomely compensated throughout his time at RPI and as he was departing the Iowa GOP, his attention has been elsewhere for most of his controversial tenure. Severance packages are rare for at-will employees of political parties.  Staffers typically know that positions are not long-term. Employees are also aware of how leadership changes can impact their jobs.

Now that the previous administration has left the building, the new leadership team has to to pick up the pieces. Essentially, it must rebuild the party from scratch in the midst of a competitive series of statewide and federal races

“I’m disappointed in the mismanagement of the party’s affairs by previous staffers and leaders, but my job isn’t to look backward. The FEC report speaks for itself,” Jeff Kaufmann, the newly-elected chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said in a statement. “Every day and night, I’m raising money, supporting Republican candidates at events across the state, and scrambling to build the best GOTV program the Iowa GOP has ever seen.”

Kaufmann has made recapitalizing the Iowa GOP’s federal account a top priority. After his election as chairman, he pledged to raise $300,000 by the end of September. While that appears to be a lofty goal, the Iowa GOP will need an influx of cash just to meet payroll.

Party sources indicate that Kaufman is making rapid progress toward his fundraising goal, and all coalitions of the party are eager to move beyond constant infighting and toward a unified effort to succeed in the November 4 midterm elections.

Photo by Dave Davidson,