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August 2nd, 2013

Dem leader McCarthy resigns for A.G. gig

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Written by: Jeff Patch
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DES MOINES—Iowa House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his resignation Thursday to take a high-paid position in the office of the Iowa Attorney General.

After Aug. 15, McCarthy’s last day in office, Gov. Terry Branstad will call a special election for his seat. McCarthy’s 47-member caucus has set a leadership election for Aug. 10 to replace him as leader.

Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, created a new position for McCarthy, which pays $131,000 annually—more than Miller or even Branstad.

Miller made $128,425.50 in fiscal year 2012, according to the Iowa Department of Administrative Services salary book. Branstad earned $130,000 in 2012.

Republicans are not expected to seriously contest McCarthy’s seat, which he won by more than 40 points in 2012 (8,772 to 3,303) against Daniel LeRette. As of Aug. 1, Democrats have 8,134 registered voters in House District 33, Republicans have 3,324 and there are 5,281 no party voters.

McCarthy statement:

After much consideration, I have decided to take advantage of a new opportunity with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that requires me to step down as Democratic Leader of the Iowa House of Representatives and also tender my resignation from elected office.

I am delivering a letter to the Governor today, as required by Iowa Code, notifying him that Thursday, August 15, 2013 will be my final day in office.

It has been a great honor to serve the citizens of my district these past eleven years. It has been an even greater honor to have been chosen by my caucus to serve as Majority Leader for four years and then Minority Leader for these past three years.

Our caucus, at present, is as united and strong as I have ever seen. If we were a ship at sea…we are currently sailing in smooth waters with the wind at our backs, well poised to become the majority party again next year.

Although I am now in as strong of a political position as I could be as a caucus leader…I feel the real desire to try something different and return to a more normal pace of life. This new opportunity, taking the lead on policy and legal issues I deeply believe in, is a chance to do just that.

I was elected Majority Leader seven years ago when I was thirty-four years old and my daughter was only four. In what seems like the blink of an eye, I am now forty-two and my daughter will be eleven years old in four short months…a teenager in the not so distant future.

I have realized there can be much more to life than spending most of one’s time fundraising and riding the political roller coaster. I will deeply miss the people I serve and work with and the policy issues I have worked on. I will not miss the ever-constant political fundraising that dominates most of my time.

I give a heartfelt thanks to my family, staff, and caucus for their constant support and to the citizens of my district for the opportunity to serve them. I look forward to working with the new leader – whomever our caucus chooses – to have a very smooth transition as I pass the baton.

Iowa Attorney General statement:

Iowa Attorney General Miller today announced that Kevin McCarthy will be rejoining the Attorney General’s Office on August 16, 2013.  McCarthy announced earlier today that, effective August 15, 2013, he is stepping down as Minority Leader of the Iowa House of Representatives and resigning from the Iowa General Assembly.

“I am delighted that Kevin McCarthy will be coming back to my office.  Kevin has excellent experience in the law, public policy, and legislative matters.   His outstanding record of public service, commitment to professionalism, and dedication to hard work and dependability, are exactly the attributes we seek in the Attorney General’s office. Kevin will be a great asset to the work of the office,” said Miller.

Miller said McCarthy will be concentrating in three areas:  First, McCarthy will direct a new unit working on issues concerning mental illness and how it impacts Iowa’s criminal justice system.  Second, he will help oversee the office’s elder fraud unit, which, along with county attorneys, prosecutes crimes involving the financial exploitation of Iowa’s seniors.  Finally, he will lead an initiative to provide more information and resources to military service members, veterans, and their families, especially in the area of consumer protection.

“Mental illness is a significant factor in the incidence of crime, the burdens placed on our correctional institutions, and the rates of criminal recidivism. Kevin will bring together stakeholders in the criminal justice system and work to advance the discussion on how Iowa can best address these issues,” Miller said. “My staff has a well-deserved reputation of leading the nation in efforts to stomp out consumer and criminal frauds of all types.  Kevin will be a valuable addition to do even more in the way of consumer protection for the elderly and veterans,” Miller added.

McCarthy will be paid with money received by the state from judicial consent decrees settling consumer protection lawsuits, not from the general fund.

Iowa Democratic Party chair Scott Brennan statement:

Kevin McCarthy has been a great leader of the House Caucus. Following the losses of 2010, he was able to defy the odds and get within just a few hundred votes of retaking the Iowa House, moving the Democratic Caucus from a 20 seat minority to only six. While his progressive leadership and commitment to Iowans will be missed in the House, he will continue to be a great public servant and Democrats wish him well on his new endeavors with the Attorney General’s Office

About the Author

Jeff Patch
Jeff Patch is a correspondent for He's a communications, research and political consultant for Iowa candidates, causes and companies. E-mail questions, comments, insults or story ideas to jeff [at]

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