Grassley Challenger Tom Fiegen Talks to Blog for Iowa about Crooks, the Fairness Doctrine, Blogs and Grassley – (Part 3)
by Dave Bradley Dave
Bradley and his wife, Carol, are activists from West Liberty. Both feel
that retiring Chuck Grassley and finding the person to do that job, are
the most important tasks for Iowa Democrats next year. Dave has known
Tom Fiegen since his re-election campaign for the Iowa Senate in 2004
in Senate District 40, where both reside. Dave and Carol met with Tom
in Tipton at a new coffee shop called “A Place To Land.”
Click here to read Part I and Part II of BFIA's three-part exclusive interview with Grassley challenger Tom Fiegen.
BFIA: You obviously seem to have a lot of knowledge about financial systems. Could you briefly describe your background.
[The first half of the candidate's answer to this question can be found in Part II]
Fiegen: The firm that I went in with in Brookings, South Dakota, had been the firm of George Mickelson, former Governor of South Dakota, and I had political aspirations. A partner there was a crook and he was disbarred. He would represent both sides in a lawsuit. There was also a retired farmer that owned farms, mobile home lots, and development property. By the time he had died, almost all of his property had been signed over to this lawyer and their family. The farmer's children came forward and sued him and also brought a disciplinary complaint. He did bankruptcies, and he would have clients sign over all of their assets to him before they filed their case. He had filled 2 mobile home lots with homes that he had taken from clients and he would rent them to people.
I filed a complaint against him as an employee in December of 1989 and I was fired in January of 1990. I testified against him in June of 1990 and he was disbarred in the summer of 1993. It was one of those things where I knew it wasn't going to be good, and I had a number of conversations with my priest and my dad and I said, I'm the new kid on the block, there's lots of lawyers in this town that are familiar with what he was doing, they're not turning him in, what do I do? And the question my dad asked is, can you sleep with yourself if you don't? I said I can't.
After I turned him in, I had a number of the older lawyers in town call me and say, good for you, and I always wanted to ask them, why didn't you? Where were you? That's how I got back to Iowa, and I've been practicing law in Cedar Rapids since January, 1990.
BFIA: So you've literally, not only represented people, but lived through situations, and that's given you quite a hands-on outlook on what all this means.
BFIA: Earlier, you mentioned misinformation. What do you do about so much misinformation being put out there by TV and radio and media that people have come to trust as being truthful? What can you do about that, to counter that right now?
Fiegen: I think this is where the social networks come in. People are looking elsewhere for information, on blogs and on alternative sources. My daugher Kate graduated with a degree in Journalism and worked for a newspaper, and while she was there, they continued to cut reporters to the point where she didn't have time to go back and double-check and fact check her stories. It was a constant push to get stuff out the door to fill the column inches. She complained that bloggers had more time, and usually beat them on a story, and were more accurate than what they could do at the paper because of the budget cuts.
BFIA: Plus they could be more focused….
Fiegen: Correct. So how do you counter? I think you look for alternative ways to put out the information on the internet, through alternate sources, and when you can, you spoon-feed the mainstream media the accurate information and you point out how information that they may have been receiving from somebody else is inaccurate, and I have a number that call me on bankruptcy developments, because everything I've told them in the past is true and credible. I could give them factually accurate and verifiable information. You also have to give them the sources so they can go back and actually see that you are giving them the straight stuff.
BFIA: Some people say one way to do it would be through the Fairness Doctrine. Are you a believer in reinstating the Fairness Doctrine?
Fiegen: I would like to see deconsolidation in media. I certainly think that we can look at segregating ownership of TV stations from radio stations, and from newsprint. One company should not be able to cover all three. First, break that apart. Then bring in some more requirements for programming where they have to present counter points of views, they have to consider the community they're in, and they have to go back to the old public service standard where they're using the public airwaves as a public service.
BFIA: Since you mentioned news sources, what are your news sources? Where do you go for news? (laugher) Do you read all of them like Sarah Palin?
Fiegen: I'll just hit the highlights of what I have bookmarked on my computer. I have the major papers in Iowa bookmarked. I skim the Des Moines Register online, QC Times online, the Cedar Rapids Gazette online. I also go to a number of websites, including the Iowa Independent, Blog for Iowa, the AFL-CIO blog, Politico.
Fiegen: I get there once in a while. I check Democratic Underground every day just to see what is new. I really actively watched DU during the presidential process because I found while we were getting ready for the caucuses that the stuff on DU was more timely and accurate than the national media.
BFIA: Anything on the conservative side? Little Green Footballs, Red State?
Fiegen: There's a couple of Iowa bloggers that I check on every other week, just to see what's there, the Krusty Konservative, the Beanwalker… every so often I just go over and see what they're doing.
BFIA: We hear rumors of another primary candidate. Any feelings about that?
Fiegen: I welcome other candidates.
BFIA: Do you believe you could beat Grassley?
Fiegen: I actually think I have a better set of skills for this economy and this environment than Chuck does.
BFIA: Ok. You know, his name is literally known everywhere in Iowa.
Fiegen: He's a well known brand. He has been a U.S. Senator for thirty years. But his behavior the last year, since the President was inaugurated, has been bizarre. And I' ve had a number of media ask me, is he losing it? And my answer is, I'm not his doctor. I don't even play a doctor on TV. I can't answer that. But it's hard to explain how and why he's saying these things, like “AIG executives should apologize or commit suicide,” “If you want good health insurance go to work for John Deere, and if they're not hiring, go to work for the federal government.” You can just go down the list, his Tweets against Sonia Sotomayor, against the President. All of those either display (1) an arrogance or (2) a disconnection from reality.
This is going to be a 2-step process. One is to convince Iowans that it is time to fire Grassley and secondly, to convince them that I'm the best person for the job. That is my goal and I think I can accomplish it. ~ Check back next Wednesday for Part 4 in BFIA's series with U.S. Senate candidate Tom Fiegen. Visit Fiegenforussenate.com