Over the past week Iowans have discovered how some self-interested film producers exploited a state program that was intended to boost the state’s economy. Film producers claimed tax credits for purchasing expensive luxury vehicles, such as Mercedes and Range Rovers. Some film producers inflated their production costs to receive larger-than-deserved tax credits, while others didn’t even bother to provide receipts for their purchases to substantiate their tax-credit claims. The State Auditor and Attorney General are only beginning to learn about the scope and extent of this egregious tax fraud, and I am anxious to hear the conclusions of their investigations so Iowans can get to the bottom of what went wrong.
Governor Culver’s response to “Filmgate” has been to fire agency heads and to make a few statements expressing his outrage over the scandal. But high-profile firings and public statements of outrage only go so far with Iowans. What Iowans want to know is this: Where was Governor Culver’s outrage in July when his Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development knew that such fraud was likely occurring? During the past week, one thing has been glaringly missing from the Governor: an admission of personal responsibility for the Filmgate scandal.
My exploratory campaign for governor is just over two months old, and during that time I have traveled the state extensively and talked with Iowans about the importance of effective, capable leadership. This is because Governor Culver’s lack of effective leadership has so badly hurt the State of Iowa since he was elected in 2006. Filmgate is just the latest example. When the tragic floods of 2008 caused tremendous damage to Eastern Iowa, where was Governor Culver? When out-of-control spending plunged (and continues to plunge) our state into budget crises, where was Governor Culver? When Iowans voiced outrage over seven justices of the Iowa Supreme Court redefining marriage, where was Governor Culver? It is no wonder his approval rating among Iowans has dropped so precipitously in the past year.
A cornerstone of my exploratory-campaign message has been about restoring Iowans’ faith in effective, capable leadership within the executive branch of state government. Effective leadership entails delegation of authority to others, but delegation of authority doesn’t entail omission of oversight. The chief executive must ask probing questions of his or her department leaders and make sure they are fulfilling their responsibilities. This is especially true when taxpayer dollars are on the line. At the end of the day, the chief executive must take ownership in the performance of executive agencies—for better or for worse. But too often Governor Culver has spurned this “buck stops here” principle of leadership.
As I have said over the past two months of my exploratory campaign and will continue to reiterate in the months ahead, the gubernatorial election of 2010 will be about the issues, and one of those issues concerns who will best bring effective, capable leadership to the governor’s office. Filmgate is the latest demonstration of how Governor Culver is not up to that task. Strother Martin’s famous line in the movie Cool Hand Luke succinctly sums up the Filmgate scandal: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Iowans are tired of such failures from their chief executive. They deserve effective, capable leadership, and I will provide precisely this type of leadership as governor.
written by Rod Roberts
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