As the legislative session was wrapping up in early May, State Senator Brian Schoenjahn (D) of Arlington, instructed a couple of female pages to help him load his pickup with thousands of Iowa road maps. The maps are printed by the Iowa Department of Transportation and are provided to travelers for free at the state’s numerous rest stops.
Iowa code states, “The Iowa transportation map is to be distributed to the public without charge. The map is not to be sold or used for purposes of personal or professional gain. The paper version of the map is not to be altered for distribution in any way, including adding a name or address of an individual, business or organization.”
The code then goes on to state that this rule applies to, but is not limited to candidates running for political office. It also states the use of photographs of the governor and lieutenant governor is not a violation of the policy.
Despite what the Iowa code clearly states, Sen. Schoenjahn handed out maps in the Readlyn parade on Saturday, June 16th. Apparently the use of free state road maps as campaign material is nothing new in for area Democrats. Activists in the area tell TheIowaRepublican.com that Schoenjahn and former state senator Bill Heckroth, who is now running for the State House, have used the taxpayer-funded maps for campaign purposes for quite some time. In fact, Heckroth’s Facebook page included a picture of the Bremer County Democrat booth, which included stacks of state road maps.
Schoenjahn distributing the map in a parade while surrounded with campaign signs and wearing a campaign hat is in complete violation of the law. Now, had Schoenjahn brought road maps to local legislative forum and handed them out to constituents, there would be no problem.
Can you imagine the cost to the state if every legislative candidate was allowed to pass out free Iowa road maps? If State Senator Schoenjahn is allowed to distribute taxpayer-funded maps as part of his campaign, shouldn’t his opponent be allowed to do the same? What about the candidates in the neighboring district? What might seem like a trivial and somewhat isolated practice really isn’t so trivial, and it needs to be stopped.
At a time when politicians in Des Moines want to raise the gas tax to help fund improvement of Iowa roads, legislators like Schoenjahn are getting free campaign materials that are printed by the Iowa Department of Transportation, which is funded in part with the road use tax fund. While it may only be a minimal savings, one would hope Sen. Schoenjahn and any other politician handing out road maps would pay for his own campaign materials instead of stealing from Iowa taxpayers.
TheIowaRepublican.com will keep you up to date on this matter. Both the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Boards were contacted for comment. At the time of publication, neither state agency had responded to our inquiries.
Bremer County Democrats Distribute maps at booth.
- Sen. Schoenjahn Helps Himself to Truck Load of Iowa Road Maps (theiowarepublican.com)
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