First District Congressman Rod Blum, elected in 2014, made the first vote of his career a protest vote by voting against the reelection of John Boehner as House Speaker. Blum was one of 25 rogue Tea Party-supported members to vote against Boehner. Boehner has since resigned and the radical House Freedom Caucus has taken credit for pushing him out.
The establishment Republicans have punished Blum for voting against Boehner and apparently still have hard feelings about Blum’s protest vote. That was evident due to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) refusal to assist Blum’s campaign until recently. The NRCC operates the Patriot Program to assist specific Republican Congressmen. Blum finally was listed to the program, but in June he downplayed their refusal to help him by saying he could get help elsewhere. The elsewhere is his own checkbook: Blum has loaned $500,000 to his own campaign in this cycle.
As a member of the obstructionist Freedom Caucus in the House he claims to make government spending and a balanced budget essential issues. Blum urged all House members to return half their salaries until they balanced the budget. He pledged to give half his salary to charity in 2014 and left that pledge on his website. “I will lead by example and voluntarily cut my pay by returning half to charities and volunteer organizations in the First District of Iowa,” the site states.
In an article in The Dubuque Telegraph Herald on April 9, 2016 Blum was asked about keeping his pledge. “I’m not saying I didn’t. I very well may have,” Blum said. “But it’s not something I’m going to comment on. Who I give money to or how much I give is my business. The voters will have to take me at my word.”
“I give a tremendous amount to charity, first of all,” Blum he continued in the article. “Is it half my pay? I’m not sure.”
Blum said he “didn’t care” that the public pledge is on the website. He also said voters also don’t care about such promises compared to larger issues facing the country.
“I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. End of story,” Blum said to the Telegraph Herald.
Apparently, Blum thinks keeping a public pledge he made to Iowa voters is now none of their business. What other pledges has he violated? His use of taxpayer money on free mailers certainly raises additional questions.
While touting his commitment to a balanced budget and whining about excess government spending, Blum spends more taxpayer money than any other Congressman on mailers. The Des Moines Register called for a revision in Congressional rules that allow for such blatant misuse of taxpayer funds for Blum’s self-promotion:
“As Erin Jordan of the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported Blum’s spending, which totaled $425,365, was the highest of all 446 members of the House who served during some part of 2015, and was more than the combined total of Iowa’s three other congressmen… Members of Congress are allowed to send out publicly financed mailings that don’t directly solicit campaign contributions or votes, and aren’t mailed out within 90 days of an election. Franked mail must discuss policy, legislation, constituent services and federal programs, but they can do so in a way that is blatantly self-promotional, which is why their use comes into question so often. One of Blum’s mailings, for example, was a brochure labeled “Congressman Rod Blum: Unwavering leadership. Keeping America safe.” It’s basically a self-serving piece extolling the virtues of Rod Blum.”
KCRG TV of Cedar Rapids ran a piece about the mailers on May 9th asking: “Are you paying for Congressman Rod Blum’s reelection?” Monica Vernon his Democratic opponent said, “At a time when so many families are struggling to get by … He’s wasting taxpayer dollars on, what I see as, self-promoting, campaign-styled ads.”
The recent massive flooding in Blum’s district should be a red flag to Iowans about his concern for their safety. Cedar Rapids dodged the bullet, no thanks to Blum. It was basically local efforts that erected the temporary flood barriers that saved the city. Blum is blaming the Obama Administration for holding up the $73 million in flood control funds. However, it was Congress that appropriated the money, and the Corp of Engineers set priorities to distribute the funds. Congress failed to appropriate sufficient funds to include money for Cedar Rapids. Shouldn’t Blum be held accountable for failing to appropriate enough money to cover Iowa projects? Instead of spending money on mailers or donating to charity, maybe he should consider assisting flood victims in his own district.
Blum leaves Iowans vulnerable to flooding, fails to fulfill campaign pledges and wastes taxpayer funds on self-promoting mailers. Blum is out of touch with Iowans and has been an obstructionist rather than a uniter. It’s time for a change and Democrat Monica Vernon will get things done for eastern Iowans.
by Rick Smith