Governor Terry Branstad’s bill signing ceremony for the most anti-labor bill in recent Iowa history was reserved for a very special guest. Drew Klein, the state director and lobbyist for the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) got an extraordinary front row seat at the private closed door signing. Branstad demanded a secret signing ceremony, shutting out both the press and the public as he signed away the rights of 180,000 Iowans.
The Republicans’ devious manipulation of this labor-killing legislation has repeatedly betrayed the Iowa legacy of open and transparent government. Governor Branstad’s final poke in the eye to Iowans was to reward the Koch Brothers-funded lobbyist with a special audience as Branstad signed the anti-labor bill. Teachers, police, firefighters and other loyal public service employees were mocked as their Governor arrogantly shook the hand of the lobbyist that assisted him and the Republicans in destroying their rights.
Klein had testified in favor of the anti-labor bill at the open hearings but meekly denied receiving any special treatment. “I don’t know how the governor’s office made final decisions on who was or wasn’t invited, but as someone that stood by the Legislature throughout the process and championed these reforms, I don’t understand why it would be abnormal for me to also stand next to the governor in support of his signing,” Klein told the Des Moines Register.
At Monday’s press conference Governor Branstad further insulted the intelligence of the press by lamely claiming he didn’t even know Klein. “I really don’t even know him. So it is not that big a deal as far as I am concerned.” He said he wanted to be accommodating, as “quite a few people that had made a specific request.”
Are we to believe that Governor Branstad doesn’t know Drew Klein? Are we to believe Klein, the Iowa lobbyist representing the Koch empire, the single largest funders of Republicans nationwide, is unknown to Governor Branstad? Are we to believe Governor Branstad doesn’t know the state director of the Koch-funded AFP that played a key role in electing Senator Joni Ernst?
In a special Koch sponsored retreat June 16, 2014, candidate Joni Ernst thanked the Kochs for launching her Senate race. “I was not known at that time,” Ernst said. “A little-known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa, known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.”
This is the Koch “network” Governor Branstad knows nothing about. Are we to believe Governor Branstad was unaware of the hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV ads that the Koch network spent in 2014 electing Senator Ernst?
That Koch network has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to crush unions in the past several years. In 2011, the Michigan AFP executive director said, “what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.”
The Kochs donated to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and played a crucial role in the destruction of public sector unions in Wisconsin six years ago. It’s crystal clear that the Kochs and their front group brought that strategy to Iowa. The Iowa Republicans in the legislature held a conference call via Skype with Governor Walker just prior to their vote on the bill. Walker said he offered the Iowa Republicans “encouragement.”
Governor Branstad must be the most out touch Iowa Republican in history if he doesn’t know Drew Klein and his relationship to his Koch puppet masters. Should Governor Branstad be more ashamed for signing this evil bill or for denying knowing who pulled the strings that engineered it?
by Rick Smith