The most difficult obstacle that candidates must overcome when running to be Iowa’s Republican National Committeewoman or Committeeman is introducing themselves to the state convention delegates. All of the candidates that are seeking one of the two RNC posts are known in their local communities, but few candidates are well known statewide.
That’s not the case for Steve Scheffler, who was elected to his first term as Iowa’s National Committeeman in 2008. As the incumbent National Committeeman, Scheffler has a major advantage because, for the last four years, he has traveled to county GOP events across the state. He also leads a statewide political group, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, which has worked with Christian conservative activists around the state for years.
At tomorrow’s Republican State Convention, delegates will decide if they want Mr. Scheffler to serve another four-year term or if it’s time for someone else to represent Iowa on the Republican National Committee. Ironically, while his opponents are trying to introduce themselves to convention delegates, Scheffler is trying to quiet criticisms and allegations of wrongdoing that call into question his character. In his case, being a little less well known might be to his advantage.
On Tuesday, WHO Radio’s Jan Mickelson spent the majority of his two and a half hour show talking about alleged misconduct by Scheffler through his Christian organization that has been known as the Iowa Christian Coalition, Iowa Christian Alliance, and currently, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Stacey Cargill, a West Des Moines Republican, called into Mickelson’s show in an effort to revive a complaint she filed with the Federal Election Commission in 2009 that alleged Scheffler directed donors to his organization to make checks payable to a specific church so that the contribution would be tax deductible for the donor. At the time, Scheffler’s group did not have a non-profit status.
The church that donors were being instructed to make their donations to was being led by Rev. Morris Hurd, who also happens to be the treasurer and chairman of the board of Scheffler’s organization. The money would eventually find its way to Scheffler’s organization, but the ability to solicit contributions that would be tax deductible helped Scheffler secure donations.
Scheffler called into Mickelson’s show to say that the FEC had tossed out the complaint, which is true, but as TheIowaRepublican.com reported last month, the reason it was tossed out is because the FEC doesn’t have any jurisdiction over Scheffler’s group. Scheffler also made sure to tarnish the reputation of the woman who was making the claims against him. He alleged that she was working in concert with others who have been critical off him, and also said that Cargill was “desperate,” “hate-filled,” and “full of rage.”
Just because Cargill has been a thorn in Scheffler’s side doesn’t mean that her allegations are not truthful. Just because the FEC threw out the complaint doesn’t mean that Scheffler and his organization are clear of any wrongdoing. In fact, the email posted below clearly shows that Scheffler has directed donors to contribute to his organization through Hurd’s church, validating Cargill’s claim.
To say that there is no truth to Cargill’s complaint is simply a lie, and Scheffler, Hurd, and Gopal Krishna, another member of Scheffler’s organization, know that because they were all included on the emails that instructed donors to donate to a specific church for tax purposes.
Another woman, LeAnn Saul, also called into Mickelson’s show and accused Scheffler of offering her spot as a national convention delegate. Saul is the mother of Judd Saul, a Tea Party activist who is running against Scheffler for National Committeeman. Mrs. Saul has also been one of the largest donors to Scheffler’s organization and has held fundraising events for him in her home.
Saul claims that after agreeing to contribute money to Scheffler’s organization, she was asked if she ever had any interest in being a national convention delegate. Saul told Mickelson that the conversation made her feel uneasy. Scheffler, who admitted to Mickelson that he has organized the caucus to convention process to elect certain people as national delegates since 1992, but he has not done so this year.
Scheffler admitted that he received large contributions from Saul and said that he had photocopies of them if anyone would like to see them, but said that he has never offered a delegate spot in return for a contribution. He then went on to discredit Saul’s claim because her son is running against him in for the National Committeeman election.
If one thing was made clear by Mickelson’s program on Tuesday, it’s that Scheffler has a lot of baggage. It is also clear that he is willing to disparage anyone in order to silence his detractors. Worse yet is that Scheffler is basically lying to people when he says that the claims that Cargill is making are nothing more than baseless attacks.
The question that convention delegates must consider is whether or not this is the type of behavior that they want out of their National Committeeman.
Now that Mitt Romney has accumulated enough bound delegates to secure the Republican nomination, the selection of national convention delegate that will take place at this weekend’s Republican Party of Iowa state convention is not as critical as it once was. The most important vote people will cast this weekend is for the person they want to represent them on the Republican National Committee.
Preserving our First-in-the-Nation caucus status is serious business, and we should vote for thoughtful and serious candidates with integrity to represent us on the Republican National Committee.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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