Barack Obama’s 2008 Iowa New Media Director was arrested Friday for attempting to use the identities of Secretary of State Matt Schultz, and/or his brother Thomas, with the intent to falsely implicate Secretary Schultz in illegal or unethical behavior. Zach Edwards, 29, of Des Moines, currently works for Link Strategies, a Democrat-affiliated organization with ties to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. Edwards is the Director of New Media for Link Strategies.
The Secretary of State’s office discovered the alleged crime and reported it to authorities. Edwards turned himself in to the Iowa DCI agents Friday afternoon. He was charged with identity theft, a misdemeanor, and booked into the Polk County jail. Edwards posted $2,000 bail and was released later on Friday. He faces up to two years in prison.
Zach Edwards’ bio on Link Strategies website says he joined the Obama campaign in early 2007 as an intern in Nevada. He eventually joined the New Media department and directed their operations in five other primary states. He was the Iowa Director of New Media for Barack Obama’s general election campaign. After the election, Edwards joined Link Strategies, “where he provides innovative web-based research tools, video analysis and production, and web-based communication tools to assist our clients,” according to the bio.
Those clients include Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. On the Link Strategies testimonial page, Harkin credits the political consultant group for his electoral success. “The folks at Link Strategies have been helping me win campaigns since 1996. Whether it is managing campaigns or handling research, their specialty is doing quality work while finding smart, creative solutions to problems. In a tough fight, there is no question that I want Link Strategies in my corner.”
Jeff Link, the founder of Link Strategies, ran the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in Iowa in 2000. He managed Tom Harkin’s 2002 and 2008 reelection campaigns. Link also served as a media consultant for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Since his surprise victory over incumbent Michael Mauro in November 2010, Secretary of State Schultz has been a target of the Iowa Democratic Party. Interestingly, on June 24, the same day as Zach Edwards alleged crime, Under the Golden Dome, a blog connected to Iowa Democrats, launched a three-part series of articles critical of Matt Schultz. They were based on documents obtained through an open records request from “a tipster.” The blog alleged that a batch of emails from Schultz’s office “raise some serious questions about his ability to remain independent and ensure election integrity”.
Just 15 days earlier, on June 9, the Iowa Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint against Schultz, claiming the Secretary of State used public resources to campaign against presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dismissed the complaint on July 19.
To read the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s press release on Edwards’ arrest, click here.