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