Senate Democrats quiet for now on Nate Boulton

Some had called on him to quit over sexual misconduct

Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines
Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines

DES MOINES — As they prepare for the 2019 legislative session, Senate Democrats, who have been critical of Republicans’ handling of charges of sexual harassment in state government, have not indicated how they will deal with a Senate colleague accused of sexual misconduct.

Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, dropped out of the governor’s race earlier this year after the revelations became public, but has said he plans to serve the remainder of his four-year Senate term through 2020.

He attended last weekend’s closed-door caucus where Democrats chose their leaders for the 88th General Assembly set to convene Jan. 14.

Last May, three women — all lawyers and two of them law school classmates of Boulton’s — told the Des Moines Register that he had inappropriately accosted them years ago. None of the situations occurred in workplace settings.

Boulton apologized and cited a history of binge drinking for causing problems in his life, though he noted that he had stopped drinking.

Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen of Des Moines and most female senators have called on Boulton to resign, but Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, said “nothing was said to him and he didn’t speak” during last Sunday’s closed-door caucus.

“He’s still a senator and I feel that it’s up to the people of his district to determine whether he should be there or not,” Dotzler said in an interview. “He’s got a lot of talent. I think he’s addressed some of his personal problems. I think he’s done some real soul-searching so I think it’s kind of up to him. It’s up to him and the people of his district.”

Boulton did not respond to an email request this week for comment.


Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, speaking after Friday’s Senate GOP caucus, said no complaint has been filed against Boulton so there is nothing for the Senate Ethics Committee to look into currently.

“There’s nothing filed and no plans right now,” he said. That would change if a complaint is filed to consider.

Whitver also said he expected to have a conversation with Petersen, who was unavailable for comment, about what action might be contemplated going forward.

Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who did not attend Sunday’s caucus, said it remains to be seen whether any complaints are filed against Boulton or whether Petersen would take any disciplinary action as leader of the Democratic caucus.

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