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With time ticking down on the transition from Congresswoman Cindy Axne to Congressman-elect Zach Nunn in Iowa’s Third District, it appears there is some unwillingness on the part of Axne’s office to ensure a seamless transition.

The Iowa Standard obtained letters regarding access to transition information between Axne and Nunn. Thus far, Nunn’s office has been denied access to transition information. The issue will impact Nunn’s office and could become problematic for Third District Iowans.

Nunn sent Axne a letter on Dec. 13 asking for her “personal intervention” to ensure a “smooth transition” between the offices.

“While we may not see eye to eye on many issues, I hope we can agree that providing constituents services to the residents of Iowa’s Third Congressional District is the most important duty of this office,” he wrote.

Nunn’s staff had made “repeated inquiries” to receive constituent correspondence, contact information and casework from Axne’s office. Those requests had been denied. According to Nunn’s letter, he does not believe constituents who have contacted the office of Iowa’s Third District representative should have to write a new letter, make another phone call or submit another case simply because the officeholder is changing.

“To force constituents to do so would be a disservice to our community,” Nunn wrote.

Axne responded on Dec. 19, saying her staff began transferring all constituent casework to the Senators’ offices shortly after the election.

“This transfer is complete,” Axne wrote. “Given that your team would not be at full capacity until at least January, this was the best course of action to ensure constituent casework could be continued immediately, with a seamless transition, and with support from both my team and the Senators’ teams who are now managing the correspondence.”

Axne said her office continued to “prioritize” the needs and wishes of Iowans by transferring the information to the Senators. She added communications between representatives and constituents are considered confidential per U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.

According to a Dec. 21 letter from the Chief Administrative Officer for the U.S. House of Representatives, failure to transfer open casework records “disrupts constituents services and reduces the effectiveness of Congressional oversight over Executive Branch agencies.”

House Rule VII, (6) (b) makes clear records created, generated or received by a member in performance of offidicual duties are exclusively the personal property of the individual member. During transition, the Chief Administrative Officer works with departing members to help plan the disposition of the casework records hosted in their constituent databases and facilitates the transfer of those records authorize to the incoming member for continued processing.

The letter states that in the 116th Congress, 22 departing members (35 percent) elected not to transfer any casework records to the incoming member.

“Given the typical member office casework workload, this likely involved nearly two thousand active constituent cases — including cases related to veterans, immigration, retirement and health care that may have been disrupted,” it states.

The Committee on House Administration and the Chief Administrative Officer briefed departing members of their options and encouraged them to “strongly consider” transferring active case records.

However, 29 of the departing members have elected to not transfer any records.

The letter does state transferring active cases to a U.S. Senator as an alternative solution.

A senior House Republican aide told The Iowa Standard that departing members are allowed and encouraged to transfer their data, especially casework records, to incoming members to help ensure a smooth transition.

“Whilte it is ultimately each member’s decision, choosing not to because of partisan politics is only hurting those constituents and disrupts constituent services,” the aide said. “For example, if a veteran needs help receiving their VA benefits and has open casework with the departing member of Congress, they would have to start all over again with the incoming member of Congress.”


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