By Sheena Dooley | Iowa Watchdog
DES MOINES — A former Obama campaign staffer committed identity theft when he sent an email saying the Iowa secretary of state’s brother received inappropriate payments from GOP presidential nominee Rick Santorum, according to newly unsealed court documents.
Thomas Schultz, the brother, also said the former staffer, Zachary Edwards, 29, of Des Moines, was behind a libelous blog post that prompted articles in The Salt Lake Tribune and Politico.com accusing Schultz and Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz of engaging in unethical or illegal behavior.
“As an undergraduate student who is graduating in April, this negative digital footprint may limit my opportunities as I seek future employment because it is common practice for employers to check the online reputation and behavior of prospective employees,” Thomas Schultz said in his statement.
Polk County District Associate Judge James Birkenholz unsealed Thomas Schultz’s victim impact statement this week after several requests from Iowa Watchdog. Birkenholz said nothing in Iowa law allows the statements to be sealed.
Thomas Schultz requested the District 5C judge sentence Edwards to probation with community service and impose a fine, according to his statement.
Edwards pleaded guilty in March to identity theft, a simple misdemeanor, and received 20 hours of community service, probation and a $65 fine. If he complies, it will be wiped from his record.
Thomas Schultz did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Matt Schultz was traveling and unavailable all day for comment, said Angela Davis, legal counsel for the secretary of state. She added that he would be unavailable in the immediate future.
Edwards and his attorney Matt Whitaker, a prominent Republican attorney, did not return calls seeking comment. Whitaker was a former U.S. attorney under President George W. Bush and owns Whitaker Strategy Group, a lobbying firm in Iowa that represented former GOP presidential nominees Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry.
Reports from Politico.com and The Salt Lake Tribune referred to posts from “Under the Golden Dome,” a Democratic-leaning blog. They were part of a three-part series that ran in June, attacking Matt Schultz for misusing his office. The secretary of state had earlier that month sent a news release criticizing GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman for not participating in the Iowa caucuses.
“It is apparent that Mr. Huntsman is in need of a lesson in Iowa politics. Iowa is a bellwether state. We care about our families, our faith and our freedom. We are not single-issue voters,” Schultz wrote in the statement, which was titled “Huntsman Not Ready for the Big Dance.”
Emails obtained by “Under the Golden Dome” showed that a draft of the release was forwarded to Matt Schultz by Thomas Schultz, a Republican who had launched a “Draft Santorum” website. Matt Schultz later endorsed Santorum, whose political action committee donated at least $12,500 to Schultz’s 2010 campaign for secretary of state.
Iowa Watchdog has requested access to all materials related to the case from Matt Schultz’s office. That follows an initial request to see all emails sent from Edwards to the Secretary of State’s Office, in which Davis said there was no way to tell who owned email accounts. She said the second request is under review.