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Iowa would have backed GOP challenge to presidential election but wasn't asked, Reynolds says

She denied AG Tom Miller's request to join brief supporting 4 battleground states

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference, Thursday, Nov.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds says she would have added Iowa to the GOP-controlled states backing a Texas legal effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn election results in four states that voted for Democrat Joe Biden had she known the challenge was happening.

Meanwhile, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, says he would have joined a separate amicus brief by another group of states in support of the results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia, but Iowa’s Republican governor declined to let him do so under an agreement reached last year between the two elected officials.

At issue are motions filed Wednesday by President Donald Trump and 17 Republican attorneys general that supported what has been viewed as a long-shot legal effort to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn election results that deem Biden the winner over Trump in the 2020 presidential race.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit earlier this week that effectively asks the nine Supreme Court justices to nullify about 10.4 million ballots from voters who picked Biden over Trump in four key battleground states. Both sides in the case had until 3 p.m. Thursday to file responses with the court.

During an appearance on a radio show Thursday, Reynolds was asked why Iowa did not join the 17 Republican attorneys general who filed amicus briefs in support of Paxton’s petition. “I was not notified or asked to be part of that brief so we weren’t given the opportunity to be part of that,” she said.

Because Iowa’s attorney general is a Democrat, members of the Republican attorneys general association that organized the effort in support of the Texas action did not contact Iowa officials to ask if they were willing to sign onto the amicus brief, Reynolds said.

“What I want Iowans to know is that we didn’t know about it. It’s very time-sensitive and they needed to move fast on it and they did to get it filed,” the governor said.

Reynolds did not say whether she would have agreed to have Iowa join the legal action, but later her spokesman, Pat Garrett, said she would have supported adding Iowa to the list of signers.

Initially, Miller’s spokesman Lynn Hicks said Iowa was not invited to join the other states’ amicus brief and likely would not have done so “because the elections were fairly and safely conducted by election officials of both parties.”

 

In a statement, Miller said, “I cannot support a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the votes of approximately 20 million Americans,” and noted that later Thursday his office was asked by another group of states to join an amicus brief supporting the defendants — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia — in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I support this brief for its primary arguments: One, the electors clause of the U.S. Constitution provides no basis to second-guess state courts in their interpretation of state law; and two, the states’ common-sense measures taken in response to the pandemic did not introduce widespread fraud,” he said.

However, Miller added that “in regard to amicus briefs of this type, I am required to get the approval of Gov. Reynolds. We have sought her approval and she has declined. Regardless of Iowa’s involvement, the U.S. Supreme Court will give this lawsuit its due attention.”

Reynolds later issued a statement through her political campaign confirming that she denied Miller’s request to join an amicus brief that supports the defendants in the Texas lawsuit.

“While not given the opportunity, I would have requested that Iowa officially join in support of the lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general,” Reynolds said. “As I have said all along, President Trump, his campaign, and supporters have every right to pursue lawful, legal actions in the courts. The American people deserve a fair and transparent election.”

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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