116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
At least on these frigid days we can get a warm feeling knowing our governor has friends in sunny Boca Raton. Weather forecasts don’t include wind chill down there.
According to campaign finance filings this month, in 2021 Gov. Kim Reynolds raised more than $100,000 in donations from Boca Raton, that luxury paradise along the Atlantic coast north of Miami.
Steve and Barbara Scott of Boca Raton gave Reynolds’ campaign $50,000. Steve Scott is a retired chairman of a medical investment company. He and his wife recently donated $20 million to Duke University to expand its sports medicine program.
Why are they interested in who governs Iowa? You got me.
Richard Stark of Boca Raton donated $35,000 to Reynolds. Stark is an Iowa transplant from Fort Dodge who founded Iowa Commodities, Ltd., and was chairman of First American Bank. The John E. Stark Revocable Trust of Boca Raton also donated $25,000 to Reynolds.
Not warm enough yet? Consider travel. Our governor did some flying around in 2021.
Reynolds received more than $34,000 in in-kind donations from donors to cover the cost of flights. Where the governor went is difficult to tell.
But one flight on April 29, at a cost of $6,515, was on the same day as Reynolds appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show along with other red state governors. You might recall she used the appearance to say she’s turned down $95 million for school COVID testing and declared her support for banning transgender girls from participating in sports.
Red State Trailblazers don’t fly commercial.
The flight was provided by Kurt Croell, president of Croell, a large concrete and paving company operating in several states based in Lawler. It was one of three flights Croell donated. Croell also donated $25,000 in cold hard cash to Reynolds’ campaign.
These are, of course, mere drops in the ocean of campaign bucks Reynolds raised in 2021 as she prepared to run for re-election this year. She raised $3.7 million and ended the year with nearly $4.8 million in the bank. Reynolds received 244 $1,000 donations, 128 $5,000 donations, 57 $10,000 donations and 30 $25,000 donations.
Her donor list is largely a recounting of the usual suspects who have given hefty bucks to her in the past.
There’s Ankeny commercial real estate and development executive Denny Elwell, who donated $50,000. Another $25,000 was kicked in by Bruce Rastetter, whose Summit Ag is seeking to build a 700-mile carbon pipeline from Iowa biofuel plants to North Dakota. Frank Brownell III, chairman of the board at firearms maker Brownells, donated $25,000.
The big numbers are generally reported within the scope of the political horserace. Which in the case of Iowa’s gubernatorial election, doesn’t look like much of a nail-biter. The leading Democratic contender, Deidre DeJear burned through much of the $280,000 she raised last year and entered 2022 with just $8,500 in the bank. That stunning cash gap is exceedingly bad news for Democrats, who had better get behind their candidate or watch a governor they deeply dislike waltz to another term.
But it’s also instructive to look at Reynolds’ numbers as a reminder of who her administration and the Republican-controlled Statehouse truly serves. Want to know which constituencies the governor actually cares about? Check the list of checks. The large agricultural interests, business interests, developers and others are all lined up in black and white, bearing green.
They have the governor’s ear. So it should be no surprise when Reynolds decides big tax cuts that will greatly benefit these donors are far better than providing adequate state funding for public education, universities, our mental health system, public health and other needs. We could make a real effort to clean up Iowa’s water, but the check-writers really aren’t going to like that.
During the heights of the pandemic, when health experts were calling for mitigation measures, Reynolds was instead checking in with the check-writers.
Most Iowans, according to the polls, are OK with this. As for the rest of us, including public school teachers, front-line health care workers, Iowans struggling to get care through privatized Medicaid, parents who don’t want books banned from libraries, LGBTQ youth, the message is clear. You got no checks.
But maybe if we all pitched in we could at least buy the governor a flight to Boca Raton.
(319) 398-8262; firstname.lastname@example.org