By Sheena Dooley Iowa Watchdog
DES MOINES – The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office is refusing to make public emails related to an identity-theft case involving its elected leader Republican Matt Schultz and a former Barack Obama presidential campaign staffer.
Iowa Watchdog asked the secretary of state’s office multiple times for emails related to the case. It also sought access to all documents associated with the former Obama staffer, Zachary Edwards, including written correspondence, emails, police reports, phone logs and written notes to staff.
But Angela Davis, attorney for Schultz’s office, denied the requests, which have spanned more than a month. She first said officials had no way of knowing who owned specific email accounts. In another response, Davis denied the emails were political in nature and said they were sent to Schultz’s private email address, and therefore exempt from Open Record laws.
“The email you request was sent to a personal email account concerning matters outside the Secretary’s official duties. Therefore, this communication is not subject to your request,” Davis wrote Thursday in her latest response to Iowa Watchdog’s request.
Legal experts, however, disagree. They contend the requested documents are public record.
Davis and Schultz didn’t return calls Tuesday seeking comment. Schultz and his brother, Thomas Schultz, who also is involved, have said little regarding the incident and declined to field all reporter questions.
Edwards, 29, committed identity theft when he sent at least one email saying Thomas Schultz received inappropriate payments from former GOP presidential nominee Rick Santorum, court documents show. He sent that email to Matt Schultz’s Secretary of State office from an email address that was almost identical to the secretary of state’s personal address.
Edwards was also behind a libelous blog post that prompted articles in The Salt Lake Tribune and Politico.com accusing Thomas Schultz and his brother of engaging in unethical or illegal behavior, according to Thomas Schultz’s victim impact statement.
Around the same time, Matt Schultz, 33, faced an ethics complaint for using his office to issue a statement sharply criticizing Jon Huntsman for his failure to participate in the Iowa Caucuses. Matt Schultz received at least $12,500 in campaign contributions from a political action committee Santorum ran. Thomas Schultz was behind the Draft Santorum website urging his candidacy for president.
The Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board later tossed out the complaint, saying Matt Schultz didn’t violate state ethics laws.