- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2020

Des Moines Register. Dec. 2, 2020

Why aren’t Sens. Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst defending the U.S. election system against President Trump’s baseless claims?

While Trump continues baseless allegations of fraud, the silence of Iowa’s GOP senators reeks of cowardice

Sen. Chuck Grassley has issued more than 20 news releases since Joe Biden became president-elect.

There was the one about National Adoption Month. There was the one celebrating the senator’s own near-perfect voting record. There was a Thanksgiving message to Iowans. There was the one with his prepared floor remarks on the 31st anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

Yet as of Monday afternoon there was not a single statement posted on his website acknowledging that Biden is the president in waiting.

More troubling, there has not been one defending the integrity of this country’s election system, which is under attack by the current lame-duck president.

A Register editorial writer contacted Grassley’s staff on Nov. 9 - nearly a week after the election and after news organizations had declared Biden the winner - to ask for a statement about Biden’s victory.

The response: “It’s up to local and state election officials to certify results and the courts to settle any potential legal disputes.” A spokesman added late Tuesday, “Sen. Grassley has never reached out to a presidential candidate to congratulate him. … According to news reports and certified state results, at this time, it appears Joe Biden will be the next president.”

Throughout November, multiple federal judges, including some appointed by President Donald Trump, have dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits, saying they lacked proof backing up allegations of fraud. Homeland Security officials called the contest won by Biden “the most secure election in U.S. history.”

Now the president is accusing his own federal law enforcement agencies of ignoring his claims of mass voter fraud.

“You would think if you’re in the FBI or Department of Justice, this is the biggest thing you could be looking at,” he said during a Sunday interview with Fox Business. “Where are they?”

More important: Where is Grassley? Where is Sen. Joni Ernst? She should be yelling from the rooftops defending workings of the entire election system this year, not just the system in Iowa that landed her back in the Senate. Why are these two not among the Republicans denouncing Trump’s allegations of fraud?

For the record, Grassley and Ernst did not formally acknowledge President-elect Trump in November 2016.

The difference this year is the conduct of the losing candidate. To ignore Trump’s cynical fantasies is to indulge them and the idea that American election outcomes are contrived.

Our senators’ silence is an affront to our democracy. And it could backfire on the GOP.

Since the election, surveys have found the vast majority of Republicans question the results, believing the election was rigged and enough fraud occurred to tip the outcome. Three-quarters of Trump supporters think Biden’s win was due to fraud.

If so many Republicans do not believe in the credibility of our election system, will they turn out to vote in Georgia’s runoff election next month that could decide control of the U.S. Senate? Will they vote in the next presidential election?

If not, then Democrats can celebrate yet another legitimate election victory.

If you think your vote doesn’t matter, look at Iowa’s 2nd District

Every. Single. Vote. Matters. That is the lesson from Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks has won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by six votes.

Six votes out of more than 394,000 cast for the race.

Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or not aligned with a party, it matters whether you vote. It also matters when your neighbor doesn’t get to the polls. It matters when your college-age son doesn’t get his absentee ballot returned. It matters when you don’t take advantage of the many ways this state makes it easy to vote early and remotely.

Iowans should remember that.


Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Dec. 6, 2020

Iowa still facing water-quality challenges

t was nearly three years ago that the first legislation of 2018 signed into law by Kim Reynolds was a water-quality measure, something the Iowa governor was proud to support.

Its backers hoped the legislation would set a higher bar for water quality.

The bill was a long time coming - debated over the course of at least four legislative sessions. Though it finally was on the books, its critics complained there wasn’t enough money or enough teeth in the bill.

Testing by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources released this week might tend to support that conclusion, though there was some good news.

Evaluations by the DNR removed more than 55 segments of surface water from a list of those impaired but changed little in eastern Iowa.

The biannual report on the state’s water quality classified 775 segments of surface water in the state as being impaired this year, down from 831 in 2018. Impairment can mean many things - most often, E. coli.

Across Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson and Jones counties, however, there has been little progress. The area’s map of impaired waters looks largely identical to that of 2018. Most of the Turkey River in Clayton County, the entire Maquoketa River in Delaware, Jones and Jackson counties, and the Catfish Creek system in Dubuque County all are impaired in Category 5 for E. coli levels.

Another stretch of Catfish Creek - from its mouth at the Mississippi River to its confluence with the separate South Fork Catfish Creek - has a second impairment as well, stemming from a fish kill in 2014, due to “unknown toxicity.”

We know that changing the content of a body of water is a slow process, so no one should have expected quick results from a legislative change. But it’s still disappointing to see no movement. It begs the question, is the state’s lauded water-quality measure enough?

While the state has made efforts to raise awareness among farmers about runoff, and there is some evidence of decreased nitrate levels in Iowa streams, the state’s approach has been all carrot and no stick. Farmers have reacted to financial incentives to voluntarily change practices.

That was a good first step - but it’s time to step up the pace. Our “impaired” waterways demand greater attention.

Citizens have an opportunity to read and comment on the draft DNR report through Dec. 30. Comments can be emailed to IRcomment@dnr.iowa.gov or mailed to Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Attn: Impaired Waters/Segment List Water Quality Monitoring & Assessment Section, Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. After that, the document is sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval as part of the federal Clean Water Act requirement that states compile such a report every two years.

While virtually every citizen wants and expects clean water, there’s another aspect to consider. Strict government regulation and red tape can hamstring agriculture and industry. Finding a middle ground is imperative.

For starters, Iowa needs to further compel landowners’ compliance with clean-water initiatives. The state must establish benchmark goals and monitor progress to get a real handle on whether quality is improving.

Iowans cannot expect the state’s water quality to improve overnight. But citizens should demand incremental progress over time.


Quad City Times. Dec. 6, 2020

Settle disputes in Iowa

Rita Hart’s decision to go to the U.S. House of Representatives to challenge the result in Iowa’s ultra-close 2nd District congressional race is disappointing.

We wish she had gone first to the five-person judicial panel outlined in state law for such challenges. Turning to Congress was, at the least, premature.

Hart’s campaign said last week it bypassed the judicial panel because it believes it wouldn’t have had adequate time to make sure all legitimate votes were counted given its Dec. 8 deadline to make a decision.

We get that, but we believe the alternative is potentially worse.

This race could hardly have been any closer. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was certified the winner Monday by a mere 6 votes out of more than 394,000 votes cast.

Meanwhile, the recount that’s taken place the past two weeks has revealed the imperfections that have always existed in running elections involving hundreds of thousands of votes.

Unfortunately, in a race this close, those imperfections are magnified and potentially decisive. An example: There is a 131-vote discrepancy between the votes tallied by the Scott County recount board and the number certified by the county board of supervisors. The Hart campaign says there are issues in other counties, too.

How are those issues sorted out? And who makes those calls?

We think it should be Iowans, not politicians in Washington, D.C.

The route Hart is taking is clearly legal. The U.S. Constitution gives each house of Congress the power to judge the “elections, returns, and qualifications” of its own members. A federal statute also sets out a procedure for challenges.

We’d like to think the process in the House, which is controlled by Democrats, would be fair to all. But that is a lot to hope for given the stakes. We wouldn’t expect Republicans to trust the House any more than Democrats would if the shoe were on the other foot.

This is difficult for us. We endorsed Rita Hart, and there are legitimate questions about whether every vote was counted in this race. But by turning to the House, this has injected a greater level of partisanship into the process, which is unfortunate.

Republicans in Iowa, including Miller-Meeks, Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, have objected to Hart’s move. Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann accused Hart of trying to “steal” the seat.

That’s rich, given President Trump has gone to court in multiple states asking judges to overturn legally certified results in a presidential race where the margins are much greater than in this case. These Iowa Republicans haven’t spoken out against those challenges.

We are not sure how the House will resolve Hart’s challenge, which hasn’t even been filed yet. We are disappointed, however, at this turn of events. Bottom line: Iowa’s congressional representatives ought to be chosen by Iowans, and when there are disputes over how the state’s elections are conducted, we prefer those issues to be settled in Iowa, not Washington, D.C.


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