Saturday’s Johnston legislative forum with Senator Brad Zaun and Representative Jake Highfill resulted in a shocking and outrageous disclosure by Representative Highfill. A question from one of his constituents caused Representative Highfill to admit that he keeps a blacklist of constituents he considers threats because they disagree with him.
Johnston resident Vicki Harris asked Representative Highfill why he never responded to her emails or her Statehouse notes sent to his desk at the Capitol. Representative Highfill said he had 15 requests from Harris on his desk, but refused to respond to her because he felt threatened by her notes. Harris is a very calm and gentle Johnston grandmother. Highfill unapologetically defended blacklisting constituents that disagree with him. He seemed very agitated and tried to defend his so-called threat generated blacklist to Harris but Zaun leaned over and cautioned him to stop talking.
In response to another question, Highfill said he had four individuals on his blacklist and would reveal their names. Again, Zaun whispered a warning to him not to disclose their names. Another attendee, Kyle McCord, asked Highfill if he would tell the forum who else was on the blacklist, but Highfill then refused. Highfill appeared extremely nervous, shifting from one foot to the other. He appeared to have a white knuckle death grip on the lectern. Zaun stood very close to him during the whole forum and apparently was prepared to shut him down if he inserted his foot-in-his-mouth-again.
Following are a list of the messages that Harris sent to Highfill about various bills. She sent identical messages to Senator Zaun as well. Zaun answered her requests and provided an explanation for his positions. Harris thanked Zaun for responding to the same messages Highfill called threats.
These are a sample of some of the 15 notes from Harris that Highfill considers as threats.
2-8-17: My son-in-law doesn’t have collective bargaining. When he gets sick, he doesn’t get paid. Gutting collective bargaining hurts all Iowans.
2-9-17: Gutting collective bargaining hurts all workers. Is that what you stand for?
2-15-17: Vote no on HF 291 (Collective bargaining bill) This bill will hurt all Iowans. Stop listening to out of state money and listen to the people of Iowa.
3-7-17: HF 518 (Workers Compensation bill) will hurt Iowa workers, vote no? Don’t play games with workers’ rights and wages.
Harris says in addition to the notes she left for Highfill at the Capitol, she has sent 6 emails to Highfill and he has never responded.
The excerpt below is the post Harris placed on Facebook following the forum.
Subject: Rep. Highfill’s blacklist. I have to say that I am extremely shocked that he put me on a black list. He then went on to say I had threatened him. I am sure my face looked shocked when he said that as I was extremely shocked. Dropping off notes to him 3 times a week has gotten under his skin. I had no idea that I have dropped off 15 so far. Apparently he kept count. I did take pictures of most of the notes. I also drop off notes to Zaun that said basically the same thing word for word. The same goes for emails, a basic cut and paste for both. We did have a good conversation afterwards and he (Highfill) has committed to starting over with me next week. What is everyone’s else’s take on his assertions at the forum….
That fact that a Republican legislator admits he keeps a blacklist of constituents for disagreeing with him is both appalling and totally unacceptable. Disagreement isn’t a threat under any definition a public servant should embrace. Highfill should be held accountable and the public must demand he do his job by responding regularly to all his constituents. Highfill works for Vicki Harris and all of the Johnston residents, and should expect disagreement. His constituents deserve to be able to express their disagreements without being blacklisted. Highfill needs to resign for his arrogant treatment of his constituents.
by Rick Smith
14 Comments on "Jake Highfill Admits He Has Blacklist Of Constituents"
My state senator, Mark Chelgren, does not respond to my e-mail messages, either. Maybe I now know the reason for that.
I have to laugh (sort of – or I’d cry) that Sen. Zaun(!) had to talk Rep. Highfill down! Guy sounds like a real Maroon. Tell me again how someone like this gets elected in this state?
Is this an editorial or a journalistic article? It kind of walks the line between genuinely concerning information and an indignant take-down. I’d love video of this, and commentary from other reps about how serious this is. Perhaps that will come with time. Regardless, Zaun and Highfill are on very thin ice.
So Vicki Harris indicated that the Representative made peace with her, but you are still knocking him with your emails. Maybe you are the one the Representative thinks is being unfair to him. Of course you and she were not politically motivated when she confronted the Representative. She just wanted to ask an unbiased question of the Representative. Right.
I emailed & left a phone message for Senator Zaun asking if he has a blacklist of constituents. Jake needs to grow up and represent all his constituents,for starters. Where would Jake be today if he didn’t have big brother Zaun watching over him? If Jake can’t take some heat,he needs to hightail out of politics. What a big baby.
I feel left out. Can I be on The Blacklist too?
For the record, I absolutely have no personal or professional respect for Rep. Highfill. I am not his constituent, but I have have met him. Although I willingly give kudos to a younger generation of politician, Rep. Highfill has never impressed me with his cognitive abilities. That being said, Rep. Highfill has expressed a growing cognitive dissonance in state legislators related to increased constituent involvement. As he described it in a workshop, it was uncommon for a legislator to receive more than 15 personalized constituent comments on any particular issue prior to this legislative year. Because of the volume of personalized constituent comments, legislators are more apt to dismiss the volume as a “paid” or “temporal” constituency. Blacklisting volumes of disagreeing constituents is a cognitively low-cost means of avoiding dissonance. Until dissenting opinion is turned into dissenting election votes, do not expect your representatives to pay attention to dissenting views. This is how a representative democracy works. Post a piece of paper on your front door and tally each time your Rep. Highfill provides an adequate (though not necessarily agreeable) response, and inadequate response, or a non-response. When Highfill seeks re-election, you will have a wonderful exhibit to show all your neighbors or to provide any primary competition he may have.
LMAO. It’s interesting how a rant can fill with non sequiturs when you click “Post Comment”.
Wonder how many Johnston’s residents will care to phone & email Jake Highfill to remind Jake he must represent ALL his constituents. Shame on Jake. He felt threatened??? OMG! He could be hell on earth when the Stand Your Ground law passes.
@Henry Wulff asking your representative about their policies and votes that affect you is absolutely your right. Government for THE PEOPLE by THE PEOPLE. You don’t get to pick and choose. worker’s compensation affects ALL WORKERS. There is nothing political about that. It’s a citizen concerned about her son’s well being.
Nice comment Adam!
This is the most pathetic and childish thing I have heard in a long time. Tell me are you going to refund every tax dollar you receive from any constituent you don’t agree with?
At least Sen Zaun is willing to respond with something other than a canned comment “thanks for your interest, blah, blah” that I get from Sen Joni Ernst. Why bother??
Is this the same Jake from state farm? With his intelligence it appears to be.