Saturday’s Republican state convention may not have the fireworks of a U.S. Senate nominating convention that many people predicted would happen over the past year, but there are still some important nominations that will need to be made. The state convention is where Republicans nominate their choice for Lt. Governor.
In 2010, the nomination for Lt. Governor was contested as convention delegates put the names of Rod Roberts and Bob Vander Plaats into nomination to compete with Terry Branstad’s choice, then-State Senator Kim Reynolds. Nobody is expecting that kind of fireworks this year, but anything can happen. Since no Republicans chose to formally run for Attorney General and State Treasurer in advance of the primary, there will also be nominations to fill those positions.
Adam Gregg, a Des Moines attorney who for the past three years has served as the Branstad Administration’s legislative liaison, has recently announced that he will be running for Attorney General against Democrat incumbent Tom Miller. Gregg is a known entity in political circles. The Republican candidate who has emerged to run for State Treasurer, John Thompson, is virtually unknown.
The Greene county native announced his candidacy in late May. His campaign lacks a website, but does have a Facebook page. Thompson’s resume states that he is a West Point graduate who has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. It also states that he recently received a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Those are some impressive credentials, but Thompson’s background isn’t quite as pristine as his time in the military and his Harvard education would make it seem.
In February of 2013, the Des Moines Register reported that Thompson was arrested at the Des Moines airport for attempting to bring a handgun and ammunition through security. The newspaper reported that Thompson said “I don’t know how that got there” each time an officer found a prohibited item in Thompson’s suitcase. It was also reported that he later told officers that it was his girlfriend’s suitcase who had driven back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Thompson said that he put his things in with hers in the suitcase before going to the airport.
While the airport incident raises some flags about Thompson, what the February 2013 article went on to report about Anderson was more troubling. The Register cited a Fayetteville Observer article that stated that Thompson and another woman were arrested in September of 2012 for allegedly plotting to have his ex-wife murdered. Those charges were ultimately dropped, but still should cause some concern for Republican delegates who will be asked on Saturday to nominate him at the state convention.
Thompson confronted Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno during the question and answer segment of a lecture at Kennedy School of Government in November of 2013. Video of Thompson’s interaction with General Odierno can be found here – Thompson begins his remarks at the 54 minute, 35 second mark.
Thompson explained that during his command, his ex-wife made false allegations that he intended to harm her. Thompson then stated that he was arrested and charged with felonies. “My unit was fully aware of my situation, but quickly tried to separate me from the Army,” Thompson went on to say. “After I posted bail, the Army illegally put me on house arrest for five months. During that arrest, I lost custody of my five-year-old son.”
Thompson then argued that the Army attempted to invent a story that he had personality disorder issues. “I stood my ground until I was exonerated,” Thompson told General Odierno. “I spent $100,000 on attorneys and psychological evaluations, and I filed an Article 138 complaint. It’s currently in your Inspector General’s office. They refused to provide me with a copy of the investigation and insisted that I file a Freedom of Information Act request. I filed the request and General Nicholson has ignored it for nine months.”
Thompson then stated, “The Army’s illegal actions have cost me my career, and more importantly my son after 17 years of service. I filed a lawsuit against my ex-wife. Would you please help me get a copy of the investigation?”
General Odierno responded by saying that he would as soon as he got back, and he then directed Thompson to make sure he provided him his contact information to his Executive Officer. General Odierno said that he would personally call Thompson back. The Harvard student newspaper also reported on Thompson’s confrontation with General Odierno.
Thompson told The Citizen that his situation spoke to the issues of balancing mental health support with career advancement. The paper wrote the following about Thompson’s situation, “Many soldiers fail to report depression or other mental health issues because of professional ambitions. As a result, problems that could have been prevented or addressed worsen over time and result in suicides or chronic mental health problems. He [Thompson] senses that his decision to seek help for depression and issues relating to his divorce motivated the army to try to disengage him.”
“Publically, the army wants to encourage people to come forward,” Thompson told The Citizen. “[However,] captains and colonels are still very quick to punish soldiers and leaders who seek treatment. They see it as a form of weakness.”
The 2000 delegates to the Republican state convention will be forced to decide whether or not Thompson should be on the ballot this fall. If he didn’t have previous arrests on his record, delegates would be excited to have a State Treasure candidate. However, his history of arrests may give some delegates pause regarding whether or not he is deserving of the Republican nomination.
Even though the charges were dropped and the accusations appear to be false, these are still issues that Democrats would likely be used against Thompson and Republicans in the general election this fall.
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