Boy, for a group of folks who spend most of their life pointing fingers and saying how much government sucks, Republicans sure can milk the the tax dollars for their personal wealth.
Sweetheart deals have been discovered involving former Iowa Republican officials in recent months. Matt Strawn, former Iowa GOP chair, has been awarded over $300,000 in no-bid contracts for his services by the University of Iowa over a period of years. In many of these cases, Strawn’s company did not even perform the work instead simply sub-contracting it to other firms. Mechanisms were employed to ensure the contracts were no-bid.
In a similar vein, former Iowa Speaker of the House, Kraig Paulsen was hired for a newly created and highly paid position at Iowa State University. The position built around what is billed as a “supply chain initiative” was created and then Paulsen picked to fill it without the usual practice of advertising the opening or screening candidates.
“His skills and experiences are considered a perfect fit for the College of Business initiative,” McCarroll said in an email to The Gazette. “His hire resulted from mutual interest and conversations about what the college wants to accomplish.”
In other words the process that was employed to let contracts to Matt Strawn’s firm at the U of Iowa was nearly exactly the same as the process employed to hire Speaker Paulsen at a substantial cost at Iowa State. An excellent analysis here:
Now let’s add into the mix the process to hire U of Iowa J. Bruce Harreld last summer.The president of Iowa’s Board of Regents, Bruce Rastetter essentially recruited Harreld for the job. Then the Board selected Harreld over other apparently more highly qualified candidates. While herald may not be the republican Party insider type that Strawn or Paulsen are, Regent’s Board Chair Bruce Rastetter surely is. Rastetter’s handling of the search for a new president looks almost like he hiring of Paulsen or the contracting of Strawn. Rastetter recruited and the picked Harreld with only the superficial appearance of a true hiring process.
In another vein, Iowa Governor for life Terry Branstad unilaterally dismantled the current Medicaid system and handed the lucrative contracts to run the system to hand picked companies.The upshot of Branstad’s unilateral move will be more money taken from our tax dollars and handed to wealthy corporations while those who were supposed to be helped by the Medicaid system – some nearly 600,000 Iowans – will receive poorer services.
There are two lessons to be learned through these stories. The very first is the corruption that is rampant in Iowa’s government at the moment. At a time when Terry Branstad is being hailed for his longevity as governor those who take government seriously are gnashing their teeth at how low Iowa government has fallen. Iowa was once the model for the country of how good governments should be run. Now Iowa is fast becoming a symbol of how state governments run by tea party zealots such as Sam Brownback or Scott Walker can fail its citizens.
The other lesson that has been unspoken is the value of the internet in providing a platform for such stories of corruption to be reported and analyzed by both a professional press and citizens alike. Were the internet to be transformed into a gatekeeper system as corporations and Republicans have been fighting for day in and day out, the possibility of stories such as these examples of the corruption of our state government would be hard to find and even harder to put together. Stories such as police brutality that has been buried for decades would remain buried were the internet to be put behind pay curtains.
Americans already pay premium dollars for internet access. Other countries in the free world have learned the value that an open internet has. Putting gatekeepers and pay curtains in charge of America’s internet wouldn’t be much different than the Chinese government’s control over their internet. Once in charge, someone will be selecting what stories citizens should not be allowed to read. happens every time.