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Newscast 4.1.24: Sioux City woman gets 4 months in prison for voter fraud; Iowans say contraception more difficult to get post-Dodds ruling; Emerald ash borer found in NW Iowa


SIOUX CITY — A Sioux City woman convicted on 52 counts of voter fraud on Monday was given a rare split sentence, with some time to spend in a federal prison and also a second portion with home confinement.

A federal jury last fall found Kim Phoung Taylor guilty, ruling she had illegally filled out election documents and ballots for members of the Vietnamese community, who had limited ability to read and understand English.

Federal Judge Leonard Strand delivered the sentence, saying Taylor would have four months in prison, followed by four months home confinement, followed by two years of supervised release.

Taylor had faced the potential for five years in prison on each count of voter fraud. Strand explained that the pre-sentencing guidelines showed that Taylor should be sentenced for 18 to 24 months for each of the 52 counts..

In making his sentencing, Strand said all the counts would run concurrently. Taylor will surrender at an upcoming date to be determined to serve her term in a federal prison in Minnesota.

Kim Taylor is the wife of Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor, and prosecutors said she pursued unlawful means to help her husband, who ran for two electoral positions as a Republican candidate in 2020.

Jeremy Taylor has been named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, but has not been charged. He was present in the federal courtroom Monday with his wife, and the couple are raising six children, who were also in the courtroom.

Strand twice brought up that this voter fraud case was highly watched, that some people will say that the federal Department of Justice went after Taylor because she boosted her husband, who is a Republican, and because a Democratic President, Joe Biden, heads up the federal administration.

Federal prosecutor Richard Evans disputed that outlook by people, saying “We follow the evidence where it leads us…. regardless of political party.”

Strand said his ultimate sentencing decision weighed the fact that Kim Taylor had no prior criminal history and a need to raise a family with school-age children, which was balanced by the public good to punish the many voter fraud charges and to deter voter fraud.

Taylor’s attorney Montgomery Brown advocated for a sentence of nine months of home confinement, noting that her actions were not violent, as he tangentially referenced the January 2021 insurrection.

“She didn’t storm the Capitol,” Brown said, nor did Taylor lead a “Stop The Steal” effort.

Back during the 2023 trial, the prosecution called several witnesses who testified that the signatures on such voting materials as absentee ballot requests and absentee ballot return envelopes were not their signatures. A few people testified that they went to vote in 2020, only to be told they had voted, which was a huge surprise to them.

Jeremy Taylor has said he will not resign his position as a county supervisor, in spite of three fellow Republican board members calling on him to do so, so he will finish out his four-year term through the end of the year

Additionally, a new report shows Iowans are saying access to contraception has gotten more difficult following the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision that overturned the federal right to abortion.

The report is part of an ongoing study of reproductive access in Iowa, Arizona, New Jersey and Wisconsin by the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit that supports reproductive rights.

The most recent report surveyed women of reproductive age and found Iowans reported having more trouble getting their preferred contraceptive methods following the Dobbs decision.

Megan Kavanaugh is with the Guttmacher Institute.

When people actually did get their contraceptive care, people were reporting it to be lower quality after the Dobbs decision than they had reported prior to the Dobbs decision,” Kavanaugh said.

The survey also found that Iowans’ sexual activity also decreased, but their pregnancy desires remained unchanged following the Supreme Court decision.

In other news, the emerald ash borer insect that is destructive to ash trees has been detected in a county adjacent to the Iowa Okoboji area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in a Monday release said testing confirmed the emerald ash borer is present in Palo Alto County. That means that the borer beetle has been present in 98 of the 99 Iowa counties in recent years, leaving only Emmet County, which coincidentally is adjacent to Palo Alto County.

Trees impacted by the beetle usually die within two to four years. Woodpecker damage and a thinning leaf canopy are typical signs of emerald ash borer infestation.

USDA says Palo Alto County residents with ash trees on their properties should begin to consider a course of action for at-risk trees. The confirmed test came near Emmetsburg, Iowa, and trees within 15 miles are often at-risk. Insecticides applied in April and May are one method of treatment.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in Iowa in 2010.