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May 10th, 2012

The Political Evolution of Steve Scheffler

Steve Scheffler has been a fixture in Republican politics in Iowa for decades.  In addition to serving on the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, he has served as the state’s Republican National Committeeman for the last four years.

Scheffler has also worked on a number of political campaigns, including the presidential campaigns of Pat Robertson in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996, and Steve Forbes in 2000.  After the 2000 caucuses, Scheffler focused his attention on re-establishing the Christian Coalition of Iowa.  He successfully revived the organization even though it has gone through a number of names changes.  Today, Scheffler’s organization is called the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, and is once again affiliated with Ralph Reed, who is credited with bringing the Christian Coalition to prominence years ago.

Scheffler has been a consistent advocate for socially conservative polices over the years, and has pushed for conservative positions and policies within the RNC.  In regards to helping maintain and preserve Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation caucus status, Scheffler has seemed less interested.  At the most recent RNC meeting in Arizona, Scheffler and the Iowa delegation made national news when they created a scene outside of a Romney luncheon.

The main responsibility for Iowa’s National committeeman is to help maintain the state’s First-in-the-Nation caucus status, yet Scheffler has failed to understand the problems that the Iowa delegation supporting Ron Paul at the National Convention would cause.  Iowa has already received a black eye for its handling of the certified caucus results, but voting for Paul in Tampa could be devastating to the prospects of retaining our privileged status.

Besides his shortcomings, Scheffler behavior in recent years either raises suspicions, or suggests that all he is mostly interested in is getting re-elected to his RNC post.

Scheffler has done a 180 on Ron Paul

Ron Paul wasn’t putting fourth much of an effort in Iowa in 2007 until he was snubbed and prevented from attending a presidential forum that was being organized by Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Christian Alliance, which was headed by Scheffler.  Paul didn’t receive an invitation because organizers didn’t feel like he was a credible candidate despite the fact that he was a current member of Congress.

Paul’s supporters lashed out at both organizations for the snub.  In fact, Scheffer and leaders of Iowans for Tax Relief received hundreds of phone calls and emails confronting them about the exclusion of Congressman Paul.  Despite all the outrage, the Iowa Christian Alliance and Iowans for Tax Relief didn’t budge.  The Paul campaign responded by renting its own space in Hy-Vee hall and holding a rally that drew more people than the presidential forum.  Needless to say, Scheffler wasn’t too fond Paul and his supporters, a fact of which anyone within earshot of Scheffler during that time was well aware.

This cycle, Scheffler has been very accommodating to the Paul campaign.  Paul didn’t attend the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s spring event in March of 2011, but he did attend the group’s fall banquet.  Additionally, this coming Friday, Senator Rand Paul will keynote the group’s annual spring kick-off event.  More telling is the influence that Scheffler has asserted on the current at-large delegate slate.

As was reported on Saturday, Ron Paul supporters garnered ten of the thirteen at-large delegate spots that will be recommended for approval at the state convention in June.  Scheffler has insisted that he did not have any involvement in the selection of those delegates, but multiple sources have told otherwise.

Even though each district convention elected two people to serve on the state delegate nominating committee, the process was influenced by outside forces like Scheffler.  Scheffler contacted at least one person to ask them if they would like to be on the nominating committee.  When they said yes, they were asked to provide their political resume, and also asked to publically endorse Scheffler’s re-election for National Committeeman.  This person ultimately ended up on the Scheffler-approved, Ron Paul dominated slate of suggested people to vote for at district convention.

Beyond just influencing the election of member of the delegate nominating committee, Scheffler also had more direct influence on the at-large slate of delegate itself.  Before the nominating committee met on Saturday, Scheffler called at least one individual, who had supported Santorum, and asked if they would be agreeable to being an alternate delegate instead of a regular delegate.

It seems innocent enough, but Scheffler’s involvement guaranteed more delegates for Ron Paul.  One could also argue that getting this person to agree to being an alternate at-large delegate could help Paul accumulate more regular delegates on the night before the state convention because it takes someone who would likely get elected from that district as a regular delegate off the table because they are already an alternate.

So, four years after Scheffler wouldn’t let Ron Paul participate at one of his events, he is hosting Paul’s son and also helping him elect the delegates he needs to cause a ruckus at the national convention in order to embarrass the nominee and the State of Iowa.

Scheffler has also done a 180 in regards to Romney

While Scheffler didn’t care much for Ron Paul four years ago, he and his organization were supportive of Mitt Romney.  In fact, a former employee of Scheffler’s went to work for the Romney campaign in 2008, and the Chairman of the Board of the Iowa Christian Alliance, publically endorsed Romney before the 2008 caucuses.  Romney also appeared at an Iowa Christian Alliance fundraiser in Dubuque a month before the caucuses.  Scheffler took the opportunity to slam one of Romney’s competitors, Rudy Giuliani, in his remarks.

In return for Scheffler’s assistance, Romney donors made large contributions to Scheffler’s organization.  These payments, along with many others, were the subject of an FEC complaint against the Iowa Christian Alliance.  The complaint was thrown out because the IRS, not the FEC would have jurisdiction over this matter.  In 2007, Scheffler was a vocal critic of Giuliani and John McCain, not Mitt Romney.  It just seems a little odd how much Scheffler has changed his tune in the last four years.

The 2008 presidential voter guide that the Iowa Christian Alliance distributed in advance of the caucuses also showed that, in Scheffler’s opinion, Romney was no different on the social issues that mattered to his organization than Mike Huckabee.  In fact, Ron Paul scored the same as Romney, Huckabee, and Tancredo.  However, one has to wonder if Paul’s alleged support of the federal marriage amendment as indicated on the voter guide is correct since he voted against it 2006.

Even though Scheffler wasn’t a fan of McCain’s, the at-large slate of delegates was full of long-time Republican activists and elected officials like Bill Northey and Dave Vaudt.  In true Scheffler form, the delegates were solid on social issues.  This year, most Republican’s wouldn’t recognize anyone except Governor Branstad and Senator Grassley.  The at-large slate also raised some eyebrows when it was discovered that some of them support gay marriage, were active Democrats in 2010, or like to spend their time lit dropping against Republican leaders in the Iowa House.

Either Scheffler has dramatically evolved over the last four years, or he is solely focused on doing whatever it takes to maintain his position as Iowa’s Republican National Committeeman and he needs Paul supporters’ help.  Either way, he’s neglecting his duty to protect and maintain Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation status.  Iowa Republicans should expect more from their National Committeeman.



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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.

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