Iowa Democratic Party Hires Attorneys to Look Into Caucus Issues

Feb 14, 2020

021420 noon

Iowa Democratic Party officials have agreed to hire two high-profile lawyers to investigate the factors leading to a meltdown in the state's lead-off presidential caucuses and how the party responded. 

The party's State Central Committee voted last night to spend up to $50,000 to retain Nick Klinefeldt, a former U.S. attorney, and Bonnie Campbell, a former Iowa attorney general. 

The Des Moines Register reports that officials hope the review will be completed within 45 days. The party has been trying to recover since the night of the caucuses Feb. 3 when problems with a mobile app and other issues prevented it from immediately releasing results.

Lawmakers worked on several bills yesterday that approved on partisan lines. One of them was a bill that would amend the Iowa Constitution to say it doesn’t protect abortion rights.  That was included in a resolution passed yesterday in the Iowa Senate. 

The proposal is meant to undo a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling providing strong legal protections for abortion rights, a decision abortion opponents say was a product of so-called judicial activism. The amendment could lay a foundation for more abortion restrictions in the state. 

Republican senators, who all voted for the amendment, say the people of Iowa should get to decide if abortion rights are constitutionally protected.  

Democrats voted against it. Here’s Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen.

“This amendment is not designed to protect women. The intent of this constitutional amendment and the politicians behind it is to make sure Iowa can ban abortion without exception.” 

If the House passes the amendment this session, it’ll have to be passed again in one of the next two years. Then the proposal would go to a vote of the people.

Also yesterday, a bill is advancing in the House that would affect women who have miscarriages, abortions or stillbirths.  They would be required to choose burial or cremation for the fetal remains under a bill advancing in the Iowa House of Representatives. It would also require a death certificate for pregnancies that end at 12 weeks or later.  

Some Republican lawmakers and Christian groups say the bill is necessary to ensure fetal remains are treated with respect. 

But Independent Physician Group lobbyist Karla Fultz McHenry says obstetricians worry about the potential impact on their patients, who would have to name fetal remains and decide what to do with them. She also talked about her own experience with miscarriage. 

A children’s hospital lobbyist says the state’s largest hospital network already offers options to women concerned about the disposition of fetal remains.