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April 19th, 2010

Note To Mr. Carroll: It’s Not An Attack, It’s Your Record

Danny Carroll1Last Thursday, Danny Carroll, the Chairman of the Board of the Iowa Family Policy Center, responded to the article I wrote earlier in the week, which brought light to his previous associations with the people he called out by name on Steve Deace’s radio program a few days earlier.

The purpose of the article was not to criticize, as Carroll suggested in his response, but to inform people of Carroll’s record and associations. I felt it was necessary to do so after listening to Carroll rail against Republican donors and presidential candidates when he himself had accepted their support in the past. In his response, Mr. Carroll confirmed that everything that I had written about him was true.

While Mr. Carroll confirmed what I wrote about his record, he spent a considerable amount of time distorting what I stand for and what I have fought for in my decade-long political career. Mr. Carroll thinks there is no difference between myself and Terry Branstad and Doug Gross. Anybody who knows me would laugh at that notion. Plus, I’ve never run for Governor, nor do I plan to.

There is no doubt that 2009 was a transformational year for Mr. Carroll. Republicans celebrated the New Year by licking their wounds after another disastrous election. At the same time, Mr. Carroll was campaigning to be the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. Shortly after that unsuccessful bid he was named the Chairman of IFPC. Then, a few months later, the Iowa Supreme Court deemed the state’s Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, which brought gay marriages to the heartland.

I understand how that decision was a game-changing moment for Carroll and many others across the state. While Mr. Carroll has been railing against the politics of the past, he conveniently forgot to disclose the details of his own record. Had he done so, the article that I wrote last Tuesday would have been unnecessary.

Carroll seems to want to talk about everyone’s record and motives except for his own. Mr. Carroll and his supporters need to ask themselves if they will allow people the opportunity to change as Mr. Carroll says he has, or will they judge others only on their previous record? When a group of pastors, bloggers, and members of IFPC met with Terry Branstad many months ago for a sit down meeting, they came baring audio reorders. It wasn’t a conversation – it was an interrogation.

Were these tactics in the best interest of advancing the cause of restoring traditional marriage to the state, or were they in the best interest of their own political ambitions? Further, Mr. Carroll needs to ask if his actions are like Jesus or the Pharisees in Luke 7:36-50. Carroll’s behavior is more like the Pharisees who are disgusted by the sinful woman, unlike Jesus, who forgives her. Carroll might forgive her eventually, but she would have to prove it.

Carroll responded exactly how I thought he would. Instead of participating in a positive debate that would advance the issues that he cares so deeply about, he chose assume that my motives were to give aide to Terry Branstad. He also accused me of using scripture to undermine the progress that has been made by his organization. To quote Carroll, he said that I wanted Christians to “sit down and shut up.”

I take great offense to that type of criticism, and would have hoped that Carroll and others would examine my record before making such ludicrous statements. I also find his statement about my use of scripture to be unacceptable for a man who is leads a Christian organization. For the decade in which I have been involved in politics, most of it took place in Carroll’s own Poweshiek County.

Carroll makes it seem as though the only reason I’m involved in Republican politics is to profit. While it is true that I have made a career out of Iowa Politics, I’ve participated in and alongside grassroots activists since 1997. In 2004, I served as the Secretary of the Poweshiek County Central Committee. That year I also served on my county platform committee.

The county platform meeting got a little heated in 2004, when, after a lengthy debate, my attempts to pass a pro-life plank were thwarted. Undeterred, I went home drafted a letter to my fellow county delegates and our elected officials like Danny Carroll and Betty DeBoef, explaining to them what had occurred at the meeting. I also communicated that we would need to amend our county platform at convention. We were successful in making the change, and I was elected to represent Poweshiek County on the 3rd District Platform Committee.

I ask you, Mr. Carroll, is that the action of a person who wants Christians to sit down and shut up? I think not.

Motivated by my experience with the Poweshiek County platform, I successfully ran and was elected chairman of the 3rd District and State Platform Committees in 2004. It was the state platform that I chaired that criticized President George W. Bush for passing No Child Left Behind. We called for its repeal. That platform also criticized Senator Chuck Grassley for securing federal dollars for an indoor rain forest that most Iowans viewed as pork.

After the state platform was drafted and submitted, officials from the Republican Party of Iowa called me and wanted those two planks changed before the platform was published. I refused.

Worried about embarrassing the President and a U.S. Senator who was up for re-election, they demanded that the committee reconvene over a conference call and take up these two issues. The call lasted only a few minutes, and we didn’t budge. If they wanted it changed, they would have to file an amendment like everybody else. Bryan English, IFPC’s communications director, would know that, as he served as the Secretary of the State Platform Committee that year.

Again, I ask you, Mr. Carroll, is that the action of a person who is trying to get as close as possible to office holders because that is where the real power lies? I think not.

Following the elections of 2006 I decided to change my career path. The fundraising company where I served as Vice President had signed on as part of Mitt Romney’s Iowa caucus campaign. I decided to leave the comforts of the private sector and serve as the Republican Party Iowa’s Political Director.

My twelve months as Political Director were tumultuous to say the least. In the spring of 2007, as some Republicans like John McCain, advocated for granting amnesty to illegal aliens, and the phone lines at the Republican Party headquarters were jammed.

After receiving a loud and clear message from Republican activists across the state, I advocated for issuing a press release that reaffirmed what the platform said about the issue. We knew that John McCain and his presidential campaign would not respond favorably, and we fully understood that issuing such a strong statement could lead him to not participating in the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, RPI’s largest fundraiser. We did it anyway.

Again, I ask you, Mr. Carroll, are these the actions of a person who susceptible to big money political elites pulling his strings? I think not.

After John McCain and Rudy Giuliani announced on June 6, 2007, that they would not participate in the Straw Poll in Ames, the Republican Party of Iowa issued a strong statement criticizing their actions. The eight days that followed were some of the most stressful in my life. The party had already signed a contract with Iowa State University for $200,000, and now the Straw Poll was in jeopardy.

I personally received an overture from one campaign asking how much money RPI would need to NOT hold the Straw Poll. Confident in the importance of the First in the Nation caucuses, we stayed the course and held a successful straw poll.

Again, I ask you, Mr. Carroll, are these the actions of a person who is concerned about the establishment gravy train running dry? I think not.

Following the straw poll, the Republican Party of Iowa entered into negotiations with Fox News to host a prime time presidential debate in Iowa. Instead of just letting Fox News do whatever they wanted in the debate, we insured that the debate would focus on the issues that were the most important to Iowa Republicans, since it really was the peoples’ debate.

You probably don’t remember that debate because it never happened. Once Mitt Romney said that he would not participate, Fox News pulled the plug on the event. I sent out an email to the 99 GOP county organizations letting them know why the debate was canceled. I received a lot of grief for sending that email from Romney activists, then-House Republican leader Chris Rants, and the Romney campaign itself, who all wanted me fired.

I ask you, Mr. Carroll, is that the action of a person who practices political pragmatism? I think not.

I also find it humorous that Mr. Carroll continually lumped me in with Terry Branstad and Doug Gross. In December, I wrote about the pitfalls Branstad was going to have with his own record. Earlier in the fall, I wrote an article about the negative effects that Doug Gross will have on Branstad’s campaign. I also wrote about the need for Branstad to distance himself from his former Lt. Governor Joy Corning.

I ask you, Mr. Carroll, does this sound like someone who will line-up behind any candidate based solely on their ability to win in November? I think not.

The most disappointing part of Carroll’s response was that he believes that I quoted scripture to undermine the progress that IFPC has made. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I wholeheartedly believe that the Truth Project is a transformational Bible Study. I simply questioned the tactics that Carroll and IFPC have employed since they are not consistent with the teachings of their own materials.

I challenge Mr. Carroll to find one article that I have written where I ask Christians to compromise. I challenge Mr. Carroll to find one article I’ve written that says that marriage in not an important issue. Trust me, he can’t. Carroll wonders if I would have advised George Washington to accept the status quo and just work things out with King George. I don’t think advocating for a constitutional convention is the status quo, Mr. Carroll.

When you boil it all down, it becomes apparent that the only reason that Mr. Carroll lumps me in with Terry Branstad and Doug Gross is because I refuse to back Bob Vander Plaats’ executive order, and I’m not critical enough of Terry Branstad.

As a conservative, I cannot in good conscious support Vander Plaats’ executive order. I have no interest in expanding the powers of the state’s chief executive. We would essentially be trading seven unelected tyrants who can only rule on issues brought before them via a court case, for a single tyrant Governor who could make far more sweeping changes than the court could ever imagine. While I might support the outcome of Vander Plaats’ executive order, I fear what his successors could do with such unchecked powers.

We should never make whether or not you support a particular candidate a litmus test for being a conservative or a good Christian. That is what I see Mr. Carroll and others doing in the Republican primary.

Mr. Carroll and his organization need to take a step back and focus their energies on defeating the root cause of the problem we face – liberal Democrats like Chet Culver, Pat Murphy, and Mike Gronstal. Carroll and IFPC will accomplish nothing as long as any of those three men retain their leadership positions. Defeating them is the common goal we all share.

People like myself should be the biggest supporters and promoters of the causes for which Carroll and IFPC advocate, yet I find myself in IFPC’s crosshairs. Carroll and IFPC may believe that they are laser focused on the issue of marriage, but I believe they once again have their eye off the ball. They have usurped the issue of marriage and made it about something it should never be about, a candidate, and a power grab.

People like Mr. Carroll, Steve Deace, and their inner circle think that they are the only ones who are willing to take positions of conviction. On his radio show last night, Steve Deace, accounted for everything that he has had to sacrifice for taking such courageous stands. With all due respect, I know of hundreds of Iowa Republicans who have fought and sacrificed to advance causes that they believe in, and many have been in this fight longer than I have been on this planet.

The difference between the people like me, and people like Mr. Carroll and Steve Deace, is that I understand that we will always have to fight battles in a never-ending war. I understand that we have to grow our ranks to be successful, not shrink them. A civil war within our party does nothing but allow liberals the perfect opportunity to divide and conquer the conservative movement.

I have never once advocated for moderation on any issue or supported any candidate in the gubernatorial candidate, yet Mr. Carroll has chosen to question my integrity.

I agree with IFPC on the issues, particularly the issue of marriage. I want a constitutional amendment. Rod Roberts and Terry Branstad want a constitutional amendment as well. While IFPC should be focusing on fast-tracking an amendment and supporting all candidates who back that position, instead they are focusing on their hand-picked candidate and his unconstitutional executive order, which only takes the spotlight off of this critical issue and puts it on this unnecessary civil war within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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