State representative Baudler gets vote of confidence, despite pot-buying experiment

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House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said Tuesday he has full confidence in his chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, who is the subject of an ethics complaint after admitting to lying about having hemorrhoids and depression to obtain a medical marijuana prescription in California last year to prove oversight of such programs are too lax.

Paulsen, a Hiawatha Republican, said Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, will remain as the leader of the House committee that deals with law enforcement issues pending the outcome of the House Ethics Committee’s review of a complaint by a Des Moines man – a member of a group fighting to decriminalize marijuana possession – who alleges Baudler conspired to break California law by knowingly providing false information to obtain a California medical marijuana card.

“I have confidence in Rep. Baudler,” Paulsen said. “Something is going to have to come forward that would shake my confidence in Clel being the right guy to lead crime-fighting efforts from a legislative perspective.”

On Monday, Mike Pesce, a Des Moines resident affiliated with the Green Central Station online radio show and the Iowa Clemency Project, said he brought the complaint against Baudler because the GOP representative said in an October 2010 email that he knowingly provided false information to obtain a California medical marijuana card as a way to demonstrate why a similar program should not be adopted in Iowa.

“We think that’s definitely a violation of ethics. I think it’s grounds for impeachment,” said Pesce, who noted that the state constitution denotes grounds for impeachment as the commission of any misdemeanor or malfeasance and what Baudler did violated the law of another state.

In his email, Baudler said he did what he did to “show how asinine it would be to legalize ‘medical marijuana.’ The Greenfield Republican has said he does not think he would face an ethics sanction because he didn’t believe the person he saw in California was a real doctor and he never filled the prescription he was given.

Rep. Kevin Koester, R-Ankey, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said Baudler will have 10 days to respond once he formally receives the complaint, which must meet three tests – the allegation must involve a legislator, it had to have happened in the past three year, and the complainant must have proper standing. He said he expected the ethics panel would meet by mid-February to discuss the allegations.

“Let’s have them look at that and then we’ll see where that goes,” Paulsen said. “Let’s let that play out before I start weighing in on something.”

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