By Sheena Dooley | Iowa Watchdog
DES MOINES – It’s not unusual for state and federal politicians in high-level offices to hire political allies for top positions, one political expert says.
The practice is less common at the state level, and for a state such as Iowa, says Tim Hagle, a political science associate professor at the University of Iowa.
A recent investigation by Iowa Watchdog found Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has hired a family member, family friend and several people with political ties to Schultz. The positions were filled during his first 18 months in office.
“It’s not entirely surprising especially with policy-type positions because you want to fill them with people who agree with your policy,” said Hagle, who also served in President George W. Bush’s administration.
“There are two concerns that come up with this, though. First is whether the person is qualified for the position. The second is it becomes too much like crony politics. You have to look at if you are stepping over the line. And where that line is depends on the person looking at it. You can’t fire everyone just because you want your own people in there,” he said.
Schultz did not entirely replace the staff he inherited when he beat Democratic incumbent Mike Mauro. He left one higher-level employee who deals with elections, as well as other lower level staff, records show.
Iowa’s ethics laws don’t address these kind of situations, said Megan Tooker, executive director and legal counsel for the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
“There’s a nepotism statue, but there is nothing pertaining to appointments,” Tooker said. “Our conflict of interest statute doesn’t contemplate that sort of thing.”