James “JC” Risewick’s appointment this week to the Iowa Board of Regents drew attention because of his significant donations to Gov. Kim Reynolds, who appointed the Des Moines businessman to the board that governs the state’s public educational institutions.
Since 2020, Risewick has donated more than $65,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to Reynolds’ campaign, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. Minus a $15,000 cash donation in 2021, most of Risewick’s donations have come in the form of flights.
Additionally, his father, Chris, also donated more than $36,000 in cash and flights, Capital Dispatch reported.
While JC Risewick—whose appointment still must be confirmed by the Iowa Senate—is the latest appointee who has been generous to Reyolds’ campaign coffers, two other board of regents members have also made generous contributions to the governor.
Board President Dr. Michael Richards of West Des Moines was initially appointed to the board in 2016 by Gov. Terry Branstad—Reynolds served as Branstad’s lieutenant governor before becoming governor—and reappointed by Reynolds in 2021.
Since 2015, Richards has donated $77,900 to Reynolds’ campaign, according to state campaign finance records. His first $10,000 donation was made on Nov. 5, 2015; he made a second donation of that same amount on Sept. 24, 2021, and a third on Feb. 11, 2022.
Richards’ largest donation to Reynolds was $20,000 on Aug. 10, 2018.
Board Member David Barker of Iowa City has donated nearly $60,000 to Reyolds since 2016. His first $10,000 donation was made on Dec. 8, 2016, and he dropped that amount again on Oct. 29, 2020, and Aug. 16, 2021.
Barker also donated two flights to Reynolds this year with a combined value of more than $5,000. The Iowa City businessman was appointed to the board by Reynolds in March 2019.
Donations made by board members Nancy Boettger and Greta Rouse pale in comparison.
Boettger is a retired farmer and educator who resides in Harlan. She was appointed by Branstad and her term expires next year. Since 2015, she has donated $1,050 to Reynolds, half of which came from Dec. 30, 2017, donation of $500.
Rouse, an Emmetsburg resident who was previously appointed as a student representative by Gov. Chet Culver, was appointed to her second term by Reynolds in April 2021. She has donated $300 to Reynolds and the last donation was on Sept. 10, 2018.
Starting Line was unable to find any direct donations to Reynolds from board members Sherry Bates, Nancy Dunkel, Jim Lindenmayer, or Abby Crow, a University of Iowa undergrad who is the board’s current student representative.
Bates was appointed by Branstad in 2014, reappointed by Reynolds in 2017, and her term expires in 2023. Dunkel of Dyersville was appointed by Branstad in 2017 and her term expires next year; Lindenmayer was appointed by Reynolds in 2018 to fill an unexpired term and she reappointed him in 2019; Crow was appointed by Reynolds in April 2021.
Reynolds, a Republican, is up for reelection. She is being challenged by Democrat Deidre DeJear, a Des Moines businesswoman.
by Ty Rushing
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