Staff Columnist

Politics is all that really counts for Reynolds

The ornamental decorations of the Iowa Capitol dome are seen from outside in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (And
The ornamental decorations of the Iowa Capitol dome are seen from outside in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

It turns out Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration will provide important information, at least when it involves helping President Donald Trump and Republicans hijack the U.S. Census.

Last week, NPR reported that Iowa is one of four states eagerly providing the Trump administration with loads of state driver’s license data, including names, addresses, ID numbers etc. We joined up with Nebraska, South Dakota and South Carolina.

According to the agreement, our data will be used by federal researchers to create a statistical model yielding the “probability” of which individual Census respondents are U.S. citizens. Combined with census data, researchers will produce “Citizen Voting Age Population” estimates.

Just a bunch of harmless number-crunching, right?

On Tuesday, the Trump administration rolled out a memorandum calling for unauthorized immigrants to be excluded from census counts used to determine congressional apportionment. Never mind that the Constitution, in the 14th Amendment, directs the census to count “the whole number of people in each state,” with no mention of immigration status.

Team Trump’s “Citizen Voting Age Population” estimates will hardly be exact, and likely tilted for political effect. Republicans see a chance to give whiter, GOP-leaning states and regions a redistricting advantage over more diverse urban areas full of Democrats.

And even if the Constitution prevails, as it likely will, Trump still can whip up his anti-immigrant base, scare immigrants from participating in the census and provide more fodder for disputing the outcome of the election.

How proud Iowans should be that we assisted in this shameful assault on yet another historically reliable government institution, now being trashed for political gain.

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But really, we already knew Reynolds doesn’t think immigrants count. She stood by as thousands became sick with COVID-19 in meatpacking plants, coddling their corporate overlords and livestock interests that rely on keeping the plants open, even if it kills workers. In April, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered help with meatpacking outbreaks, Team Reynolds declined. The Capitol Dispatch, in attempting to obtain public records explaining that mystifying decision, were told it would cost nearly $10,000.

Earlier this month, we learned that Iowa declined to provide data on meatpacking plant outbreaks for a CDC study that found the pandemic hit racial and ethnic minorities hardest.

So when Trump wants help erasing immigrants from the census, Reynolds is eager to help. But when journalists want public records, or health experts want to analyze our failure to keep immigrant workers safe, we pull the shades. As far as the governor is concerned, so long as the pork products kept coming, and the campaign checks, nothing bad happened.

Iowa is providing Trump with our driver’s license numbers. At the same time, Republicans are barring elected county auditors from using our voter ID numbers to fix incomplete absentee ballot request forms. In both instances, the goal is to help Republicans win by any means necessary. And we ought to know by now that’s really all that counts.

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

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