Iowa Dems accuse Branstad of open-records biff


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The Iowa Democratic Party has waited 47 days for an open-records request pertaining to expenditures for the governor’s state tours.

And though Democrats fear too much money is being spent and no jobs are being created, the Governor’s Office insists that Gov. Terry Branstad is working diligently on jobs and the delayed records disclosure is due to the slowness of finding and filing paperwork.

“Taxpayers and legislators need to know what that money is going for that could be going toward education or other departments,” Sam Roecker, the Iowa Democratic Party communications director, said of the funds spent onBranstad’s state-wide travels.

Roecker said the request was sparked by Branstad’s series of tours across Iowa. The tours focused primarily on the state budget and job creation, including the “Jobs for Iowa” tour that aims to reach business owners across the state to create jobs.

However, Roecker said, the Iowa Democratic Party began to question the tours effectiveness in job creation.

“Branstad promised 200,000 jobs in five years, and for him [the state tour] is one way to do it, but we’ve lost 8,200 jobs,” he said. “If he wants to fulfill his promise, he has to create 109 jobs a day.”

The July 6 open-records request sought to disclose the cost of Branstad’s June tour “Working Together for a Better Future.” The request asked for costs of Branstad’s chartered plane, accommodation expenses for staff, and corresponding emails and documentation regarding the tour.

As of now, Roecker said, these questions have been left unanswered, which may be a violation of Iowa Code.

“Chapter 22 [of Iowa Code] allows a good-faith reasonable delay under some circumstances,” said Kathleen Richardson, the executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.

“If the Governor’s Office goes beyond that time range, that might be legally questionable,” she said. “It could be cause for alarm.”

The code allows for 20 calendar days for a response to a request though it also states that it should ordinarily take only 10 business days.

Tim Albrecht, Branstad’s communications director, said the Governor’s Office is in compliance with the request, and the information is being processed.

Records such as these takes time, he said, especially when records such as these go through various offices.

“We are compiling these records as quickly as we are able, and this office has gone above and beyond to develop a full and accurate response to this request,” he said.

Albrecht also iterated Branstad remains committed to work until every job-seeking Iowan can find one, despite “the Democratic Party’s roadblocks.”

“Gov. Branstad has offered meaningful solutions to creating jobs,” he said. “The Democrats’ political posturing in the newspaper is sad.”

Albrecht said any delay was due to ensuring a complete and fully accurate report, not an attempt to hide information.

The Democratic Party, however, is losing patience.

“They have to be honest and say they don’t know or give us the records,” Roecker said. “They have an obligation to spend money correctly, and if they can’t tell us, that’s a big problem.”

Although this may be an issue for the Democratic agenda, not everyone sees it as a point for political quarrels.

“I know that Gov. Culver traveled all over the state, and I never thought to ask how much that cost,” said Rep. Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia. “I’ve always thought governors should be allowed to travel around their state.”

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