Staff Columnist

You can't get away from news, even on spring break

The Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
The Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

So did anything happen while I was on vacation?

Of course, I know lots of stuff happened. I’m not one of those folks who is able to unplug from news while I’m on a break. I’ve tried, but developments keep pulling me back in.

That’s why, as the Family Truckster was cruising down the holiday road in Florida two Sundays ago, I was reading of U.S. Rep. Rod Blum’s speech to the Linn County Republican convention, the one where he compared media coverage of his business dealings to a “beautiful assassination attempt.”

Wow. Don’t worry, my wife was driving.

Of course, Blum is referring to news first reported by the Associated Press that he failed to disclose his financial role in Tin Moon, an online firm promising to help businesses bury negative information customers might find in web searches. Maybe a company gets cited for a health or safety violation its owners would rather keep under wraps. Tin Moon to the rescue.

Apparently, in Blum’s mind, it was the media that made him forget he was CEO of Tin Moon, at least he was until the AP story broke. Reporters apparently forced Tin Moon to use Blum’s congressional photo on its website, and pushed one of his aides to star in a video as a fake satisfied client. Media types also must have convinced Blum it’s a good idea for a public servant to make money helping businesses hide important information from the public. It’s all a vast conspiracy.

But it was wholly appropriate to read this type of news on Florida’s I-75, where guys in pricey vehicles careen through heavy traffic as if rules simply don’t apply to them. Speed limits are for suckers. Middle fingers pass for apologies.

Sometimes, there are crashes. I’m sure they’re somebody else’s fault.

Speaking of crashes, I was mixing up a couple of rum drinks in our beach cottage when my phone buzzed with news of Bill Dix’s resignation. The former Senate GOP leader from Shell Rock stepped down just hours after a video posted on Iowa Starting Line showed the married lawmaker stepping out with a lobbyist. They were caught on camera kissing at the Waveland Tap.

Awful judgment, to be sure. But this is a guy who made awful judgment his management style. Dix fired former Senate GOP communications director Kirsten Anderson just hours after she complained about the lurid conduct of caucus staff and lawmakers. Dix punished no one, except Anderson. She received a $1.75 million legal settlement. We paid for it.

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Dix, who once said voters want Republicans to boldly kick in the Statehouse door, shot himself squarely in his kicking foot and humbly hobbled out that same door. I’m not sure what Dix was drinking that night at the Waveland. Old fashioned comeuppance? Or a karmarita, perhaps.

In any event, the hangover likely will last, especially considering the new Senate bosses come straight from team Dix.

There was some good news from the Statehouse. As I watched the NCAA tournament’s opening games, word came that a bill requiring a state Supreme Court supermajority to overturn unconstitutional statutes had its bracket busted in the House. Good to see a bad idea actually die. Let’s hope it remains dead.

l Comments: (319) 398-8262; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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