The wife of a defeated Boone City Council candidate is accused of assaulting three people—including one of whom she blamed for her husband’s loss—following Monday’s Boone Utility Commission meeting.
According to a criminal complaint, Amy Rasmussen, 54, took exception to the way Boone resident April Burch—who is also her cousin—spoke about her husband, Todd Rasmussen, during the election.
Todd Rasmussen was narrowly defeated by incumbent councilperson Elijah Stine on Nov. 2.
This year, a number of local city and school board races across Iowa were unusually and highly contentious as they became more politicized, including in Boone.
During the election, Todd Rasmussen ran as part of a block of conservative city council candidates which included Annie Wallert, who was also defeated, and Cole Hilpripe, who was successful in his race against Scott Zeitler.
Burch, known for her activism in the town of about 12,500 residents, was open in her opposition to all three conservative candidates and endorsed their opponents. She also endorsed Boone City Councilmember Holly Stecker’s mayoral bid; however, Stecker was defeated by incumbent mayor John Slight.
Even before Monday’s incident, there was some shared history between some of the candidates and their supporters but never any physical violence.
Wallert started a petition in summer 2020 asking Stine and Stecker to resign after they attended a social justice protest in Boone. Todd Rasmussen signed the petition and commented that Stine and Stecker don’t support law enforcement, but instead support those who want to abolish the police.
In a separate incident also in summer 2020, Wallert sued Burch and Katherine Stine—councilmember Elijah Stine’s wife—for defamation of character, slander, libel, and harassment over Facebook posts questioning Wallert’s motives with the Boone Homeless Fund, a nonprofit organization she started in 2019, and other activities she was involved in.
According to court records, the matter is still in litigation.
When Amy Rasmussen saw Burch outside of Boone City Hall after Monday’s commission meeting, she confronted her and accused Burch of making derogatory remarks about her husband and son before the alleged attack during which Rasmussen told Burch she was going to be “hog chow” the next time she saw her, according to court documents.
“I was punched repeatedly in the head,” Burch told Starting Line. “The assault continued after I fell to the ground where I was also kicked in the head. The extent of my injuries is unknown at this time. I am cooperating fully in the law enforcement investigation and hopeful that justice is served.”
Also during the assault, Rasmussen is said to have knocked Boone resident Laura Hutchcroft over a retaining wall which caused a back injury to Hutchcroft. Burch and Hutchcroft were treated for their injuries and filed for protective orders against Rasmussen.
Additionally, Rasmussen is also accused of striking Stecker with an elbow during the incident. Notably, Rasmussen, Hutchcroft, and Stecker all serve on the Boone Art Commission together.
Rasmussen was arrested and taken to the Boone County Jail following the incident. She was charged with two counts of assault causing bodily injury or mental illness (serious misdemeanors); and disorderly conduct – fighting violent behavior, assault, and third-degree harassment, all of which are simple misdemeanors.
She was released Tuesday on a $600 bond. A since-deleted GoFundMe page was set up by Erin Canfield of Boone to help Amy Rasmussen cover her legal expenses and Wallert donated $50 toward it.
In response, Amy Rasmussen’s sister, Teresa Pori of Bakersfield, California, set up a separate and still active GoFundMe page to support Burch.
“It’s no longer safe for her family of nine to live in the town that she was born and raised in,” Pori wrote. “I am looking for your assistance to help April and her family heal from this devastating experience, upgrade their household security and accelerate their plans to relocate to a safer community.
“Let’s show April the love and support she has shown so many of us over the years.”
Correction: Katherine Stine was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.
by Ty Rushing