Legislature

Complaint about Rep. Ken Rizer's residency unfounded

Rizer moved, but still lives in House 68

The Gazette

Rep. Ken Rizer, R-Marion, speaks at a Feb. 18 League of Women Voters forum in Cedar Rapids. Rizer's residen
The Gazette Rep. Ken Rizer, R-Marion, speaks at a Feb. 18 League of Women Voters forum in Cedar Rapids. Rizer’s residency was questioned after he moved from Cedar Rapids to Marion. Linn County Auditor Joel Miller investigated and found Rizer was still a resident of House District 68.
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DES MOINES — Rep. Ken Rizer calls a Democratic leaders’ request for an investigation into whether he lives in the Linn County district he represents “blatant politics.”

The claim that he no longer lives in House District 68 — which includes Marion, Bertram, Ely and Putnam — has been investigated and determined to be unfounded, Rizer, a second-term Republican, said Thursday.

In a letter to news media, Linn County Democratic Chairman Brett Nilles said he had asked the Linn County Auditor and the secretary of state to investigate Rizer’s residence.

“If Rep. Rizer is no longer living in this district, then he shouldn’t be representing it,” Nilles wrote. “Since Rep. Rizer is so focused on voting rules and regulations this session — trying to enact legislation that will ‘solve’ a non-existent voting problem, while at the same time making it more difficult for people to vote — I’m sure he’ll want to be certain to follow the letter of the law on this matter as well.”

There’s nothing to the complaint, Rizer said Thursday.

“I’m paying rent,” he said as he displayed a voter registration card with a Marion street address. He did move from Cedar Rapids to Marion earlier this year following a divorce.

It’s not the first complaint about Rizer’s residency. A complaint in February was investigated by Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, a Democrat who has been critical of the “election integrity” bill that Rizer, chairman of the State Government Committee, has been managing in the Iowa House.

That complaint was filed before the paperwork transferring ownership of Rizer’s Cedar Rapids homes had been recorded by the county, Miller said.

In a text message, Miller wrote to Rizer: “Fully corroborated to my satisfaction. We will notify the complainant that her allegation is without merit.”

Miller said in a Thursday email he has received similar inquiries from two legislators and at least two Democratic activists.

“I have reviewed the law and his voter registration record and talked to him face-to-face,” Miller said. “At this time, I am satisfied that Rep. Rizer has met all of the requirements of the law to represent his district in the House.”

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said no complaint has been received.

Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann called the inquiry “another feeble attack” on a capable legislator.

“It’s clear that they’re just throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him because they’ve tried and failed twice to beat him on the merits,” Kaufmann said.

Nilles did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Rizer agreed that it’s part of an effort by Democrats to go after swing district GOP incumbents.

“My district is a swing district, and I think on the Democratic activist side of the House they are unhappy with the voter ID bill even though 69 percent of Iowans support it,” Rizer said. “So I think they are gearing up to contest in my district and, really, all the other swing districts.”

Rizer was re-elected in November, 52 to 44 percent, over Democrat Molly Donahue, despite Democrats having a voter registration advantage of nearly 600 voters.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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