Before and after he was elected to the State Central Committee, Joel Kurtinitis repeatedly told Republicans that he would stay neutral in GOP primaries. So, activists around the state were taken aback when Kurtinitis’ name and phone number appeared at the top of a press release sent Wednesday night from the Liberty Iowa PAC, announcing their endorsement of First Congressional District candidate Rod Blum.
“For clarification, I’m not endorsing him,” Kurtinitis told TheIowaRepublican.com. “I am working with the PAC, but trying to stay out of the races as much as possible.”
Although Kurtinitis might not be personally supporting Blum, he is a key figure in a political action committee that publicly endorsed the candidate. There might not be an actual conflict of interest, but there is certainly the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Joel Kurtinitis is one of 18 members of the Republican SCC. He represents the Third Congressional District, spanning Polk County and the southwest portion of the state. Kurtinitis says having his name on the press release was an oversight. He is the media contact person for Liberty Iowa and his name and number are already on the press release template.
“We do a lot more than just candidates,” Kurtinitis said. “So, I think I can do a lot of good with the legislators and trying to get bills before the senate. That’s the capacity that I’m trying to stay on with. So, I’ll be helping them. As far as the template, that was just a mistake and I’ll take that off of there. We just basically, we forgot to take it off, and that’s my bad.”
In a prepared statement, Kurtinitis noted that the state party’s platform requests that all officers of the RNC and RPI remain neutral in primaries. Longtime SCC member David Chung believes that rule should also be in the party’s constitution.
“I believe that it hurts our party for those in leadership to pick sides in contested primaries,” Chung said. “It has even become commonplace for SCC members to serve as paid staffers on campaigns. In the 2012 caucus four SCC members held paid positions on campaigns. I believe that some of the difficulties facing the Republican Party of Iowa today are a direct reflection of those conflicts of interest.”
Joel Kurtinitis is not the only Republican Party of Iowa officer with connections to Rod Blum’s campaign. Executive Director Steve Bierfeldt runs a political consulting firm “for liberty minded clients” called Atlas Strategies. One of the past clients listed on the Atlas Strategies website is “Rod Blum for Congress”. Blum’s campaign paid Bierfeldt’s company $5,871 for “telemarketing” in 2010. Rod Blum spoke at RPI’s “Celebrate Life” event in Waukee last month.
You can read Kurtinitis’ entire statement below:
“To anyone concerned about my name being shown as press contact for Liberty Iowa in regards to their recent congressional endorsement, I want to reassure you that as a member of the Republican State Central Committee I will remain publicly neutral in this and other contested primaries.
Section 24.8 of our platform reads, “We reaffirm that the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Iowa and its officers should remain neutral in all contested primaries.” While I am aware that this requirement is not in the RPI Constitution, I am willing to be bound by our platform, and will remain neutral.
As press contact for Liberty Iowa, my name was on the release form before it was written, and the fact it wasn’t removed was simply an oversight. While I am proud to continue working with Liberty Iowa to advance legislation and causes that are in harmony with the Republican Party platform, I will remain neutral in primary elections and voluntarily limit my involvement with subsidiary organizations to non-election-related operations.”
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