One of the hottest Iowa House Republican primary races involves conservative State Rep. Steve Bradley and moderate State Rep. Lee Hein.
Hein has been a pretty consistent roadblock for conservatives in the Iowa House when it comes to passing a deep red agenda. He has voted against the Heartbeat Bill and the Protect Life Amendment.
He is in a primary fight against Bradley, who is pro-life, champions school choice and serves as a consistent conservative voice in the Iowa House.
Yet some members of the Iowa House of Representatives are siding with the anti-life Hein against pro-life Bradley.
State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, son of Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann, wrote a letter to the editor endorsing Hein.
Kaufmann even wrote:
“Given the spin and lies of these out-of-state third-party groups spending tens of thousands in this primary, I wanted you to know the Lee Hein I know in the Capitol. He is a pro-life, pro-gun conservative who acts.”
Astonishing, considering Hein’s recent record on life:
*In 2020, Hein was a no on the Protect Life Amendment. Because of Hein’s “no,” the House didn’t have the votes to pass it and the amendment died. Because this amendment failed to pass the House in 2020, it won’t be considered by Iowans until 2024 at the earliest. Meaning if Roe v. Wade is struck down this summer, Iowa legislators won’t act on abortion until 2025 at the earliest. With an estimated 4,000 babies aborted every year in Iowa, that’s 10,000 babies who will be killed due to the Iowa House’s inaction on the amendment in 2020.
*Jan. 27, 2021, Hein voted no on the Protect Life Amendment. This bill doesn’t outlaw a single abortion, but it gives Iowans a chance to vote whether the state constitution includes a right to an abortion and public funding for an abortion. Hein’s vote shows he is unwilling to allow Iowans have a say in their own state constitution on the life issue.
*May 1, 2018, Hein voted against the Heartbeat Bill, even after exceptions were included in the bill. This bill would have outlawed killing an unborn baby via abortion once a heartbeat is detectable.
Yet somehow Republican House members are claiming Hein is “pro-life.”
The letter to the editor that really caught my attention was authored by State Representatives Jarad Klein and Ross Paustian.
Both Klein and Paustian claim that both Bradley and Hein are “strongly pro-life.” They then criticized Bradley for voting against a bill that requires gas stations in Iowa to sell and advertise a certain product — essentially bringing ObamaCare to the gas pumps.
The letter to the editor is what it is, but it is the names signed to the letter that stood out most.
In the letter published in the Monticello Express, it is signed by:
Rep. Jared Klein, Chairman House Safety Committee
Rep. Ron Paustian, Chairman House Ag Committee
Here is the interesting thing — it seems neither Klein nor Paustian remembered how to spell their own names.
As pointed out above — Jared Klein is actually spelled Jarad Klein. And, for the record, there is no House Safety Committee, but there is a House Public Safety Committee.
And Ron Paustian isn’t a State Representative. Nor is Ron Paustian chair of the House Ag Committee.
But Ross Paustian is.
So, initially I wondered — how is it possible Klein forgot how to spell his name, something he’s likely done for his entire life — and Paustian forgot what his first name is — something he’s likely known his entire life.
I called the Monticello Express to ask what the actual email said and how the spellings were in the email. I was told they copied and pasted the text straight from the email. Klein and Paustian had indeed made the error.
Except, for one thing…neither Klein nor Paustian sent the letter. And the Monticello Express did not confirm with Klein or Paustian that they wrote the letter.
Instead, the letter was sent to the Monticello Express by Luke Martz. It was not sent by Klein. It was not sent by Paustian.
Martz is listed as the editor and owner of the Iowa Field Report, which is the Republican Party of Iowa’s news website.
The Republican Party of Iowa paid the Iowa Field Report $25,000 for “consultant services” on Jan. 28, 2022. It gave the Iowa Field Report $25,000 (with two $12,500 checks) on Jan. 9, 2020, but called it “advertising.” Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign also gave the Iowa Field Report $25,000 in 2020.
Hein’s campaign, meanwhile, has paid $3,000 four different times to a company called Riverfront Strategy Group — May 2, 2022; Jan. 20, 2022; April 2, 2022; March 6, 2022.
And, it just so happens, Martz is an account director for Riverfront Strategy Group. And the email sent to the Monticello Express containing the letter to the editor from Klein and Paustian was sent by Martz from his email with Riverfront Strategy Group.
So the Republican Party of Iowa has subsidized its own PR website with $50,000 the last two years and the same person who runs that website is obviously managing or navigating things for Hein’s campaign through Riverfront Strategy Group.
Is this a round-about way for the Republican Party of Iowa to put its thumb on the scales during a GOP primary between an anti-life House Republican (Hein) against a pro-life House Republican (Bradley)?
Well, we also know that the Republican Party of Iowa contributed $3,171.40 to Hein on Oct. 26, 2018 — just months after he voted against the Heartbeat Bill.
On Oct. 9, 2018, the Republican Party of Iowa contributed $3,178.57 — just months after he voted against the Heartbeat Bill.
In one week, voters will head to the polls and decide whether they want an anti-life moderate Republican (Hein) representing them in the Iowa House or a pro-life conservative (Bradley) representing them in the Iowa House.
It will be interesting to see how this race shakes out and if the establishment does enough to protect one of its own.