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June 20th, 2013

Big Liberty Trifecta: Blum Attacks Paulsen, SCC Members Slam Branstad, Fischer “Seriously Considering” Senate Run

It’s been a busy week for the “liberty” wing of the Iowa GOP. Their favored congressional candidate verbally attacked the Iowa Speaker of the House, their political action committee bashed Governor Branstad and one of their state leaders announced he is “seriously considering” entering the U.S. Senate race.

Let’s start with the congressional race: Dubuque businessman Rod Blum is running for the Republican nomination in the First Congressional District. To that end, he has closely aligned his campaign with the Ron Paul/liberty wing of the Iowa GOP. The Liberty Iowa PAC quickly endorsed Blum after he announced his candidacy.

Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen is also considering running for the seat that is currently occupied by Democrat Bruce Braley, but will be open in 2014. Blum launched a preemptive strike against Paulsen’s campaign when he publicly referred to Paulsen as an “opportunist” and “compromiser”, according to reporter James Lynch.

Blum didn’t stop there, either. He also referred to Speaker Paulsen as a “career politician and a lawyer who hasn’t created a single job”.

Kraig Paulsen spent 10 years serving his country in the United States Air Force. He was first elected to the Iowa House in 2002. Paulsen is still at least a few weeks away from finalizing his decision.

“I’m just contacting supporters and taking in information, having conversations with family,” Paulsen told last week. “I’m probably looking at a month, to month and a half before I’ve made a decision, but I’m working through that and I’ve been pretty encouraged so far.”

Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje is the other announced candidate in the First District Republican primary.

SCC Members Rip Branstad, Claim He Violated the Platform, While They Do the Same

Jeff Shipley is a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, from the First Second District. He also plays a prominent role for Liberty Iowa PAC on their legislative committee. On Tuesday, Shipley sent a mass email entitled “Branstad Supports Tax Mandate”.

The email references Governor Branstad’s support of a federal online sales tax, which is being considered in Congress. The governor pledged to use any additional revenues to provide tax relief to Iowans.

“I want to assure that, in Iowa, we will reduce taxes by however much additional revenue the state would gain if this legislation is approved,” Branstad said at his weekly news conference.

Last week, Governor Branstad signed the largest tax cut in state history. He plans an income tax reduction for the 2014 legislative session. However, that record and those pledges do not satisfy Jeff Shipley.

“Terry Branstad seems to have no reservations saddling small businesses with these new onerous requirements. After all, it’s more money for him to spend, and it’s us consumers ultimately footing the bill,” Shipley wrote.

SCC member Joel Kurtinitis, who also works for Liberty Iowa, agrees with Shipley.

“Governor Branstad has, in this instance, acted in opposition to the Republican Party of Iowa’s platform,” Kurtinitis said. “Our platform specifically opposes federally-enforced taxation of the internet and as an elected representative of the Third District on the SCC, it is my job to represent our platform and the grassroots of our party, not to represent the governor to the grassroots. I am proud to work with Liberty Iowa in opposing this unnecessary money and power grab.”

Actually, there is nothing in the “Taxation” section of the RPI platform regarding the internet. The plank Kurtinitis is referring to apparently is in the “Business” section:

4.10 We oppose government control, taxation, or censorship of the Internet by the federal government or international organizations, like the United Nations.

However, to see Joel Kurtinitis use the Republican Party of Iowa platform to make his point is quite amusing. He is well aware of, and has previously referenced, plank 24.8 of that same platform.

24.8 We reaffirm that the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Iowa and its officers should remain neutral in all contested primaries.

Joel Kurtinitis and Jeff Shipley are officers of RPI. Since they also appear to be on the payroll of Liberty Iowa PAC, which has already endorsed a candidate in the First District primary and has a history of getting involved in legislative races, then they are in violation of the same RPI platform they’re demanding others remain beholden to.

For the record, Kurtinitis maintains that he is remaining neutral in Republican primaries, although Liberty Iowa PAC is not. Kurtinitis says the fact that his name and phone number were at the top of Liberty Iowa’s press release announcing their endorsement of Rod Blum was “a mistake”.

RPI Co-Chair Fischer “Seriously Considering” Senate Run

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker, Co-Chair David Fischer and Finance Chair Drew Ivers have all expressed interest in running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. The trio also formed the state leadership of Ron Paul’s 2012 Iowa Caucus campaign.

Fischer took his potential candidacy a step further Wednesday when he created a new “public figure” Facebook page for himself and posted that he is “seriously considering” entering the U.S. Senate race.

As the state co-chair of the party, Fischer receives a yearly stipend of around $10,000. He is also reimbursed by the state party for things like travel expenses.

If David Fischer is indeed laying the groundwork for a senate campaign, there is an undeniable conflict of interest for him to continue to serve as co-chair. However, Fischer denied there was a conflict of interest when he, Ivers and Spiker were State Central Committee members while they were running Ron Paul’s Iowa campaign.

It’s also hard to imagine Spiker, Ivers, Kurtinitis, Shipley and the other Ron Paul supporters on the SCC, along with staffers who also worked for the Paul campaign, staying neutral in the U.S. Senate primary if David Fischer is one of the candidates.

Here is what Fischer wrote regarding the U.S. Senate race:

I am seriously considering entering the race for United States Senate.

Just days ago a new Iowa Poll showed that only 30% of Iowans think the country is headed in the right direction, compared to 60% who think we’re on the wrong track. Sadly, I have to agree with the majority. We can do better.

Iowans today have an uneasy feeling their children and grandchildren may not enjoy the same opportunities and standard of living that previous generations could take for granted. Prices keep rising and incomes aren’t keeping up.

Our government tries to solve problems caused by too much spending and too much debt with yet more spending and more debt. They endlessly print more money, stealing the value of Americans’ money, and endangering our economy and national security.

While we’re told there’s no money for White House tours for school kids, we somehow have money to send weapons into a dangerous conflict in Syria. Americans don’t want another war.

Every week seems to bring a new reminder of how our federal government has grown far beyond its constitutional restraints. In the last few days we’ve learned that the IRS is being used as a political weapon and the government is monitoring our emails, text messages, and phone calls without probable cause.

Our political system is dysfunctional. Career politicians somehow think government is the solution to our problems, but only by reducing the size and scope of government can we hope to restore America – to give our children and grandchildren hope for more. More freedom. More genuine prosperity. More peace. I’m optimistic that with the right remedy, we can get our nation back on track.

I’ll keep you posted as I carefully consider this important decision.

Photo by Dave Davidson

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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