What should voters do with lawmakers who break the law?
It is a question that comes up once every two, four or six years. In the Iowa House of Representatives, it comes up every two years.
There is really no easy way of writing this without it automatically turning off some people. But hopefully, they at least hear this out.
Democrat State Rep. Scott Ourth is in a tough race to retain his Iowa House seat. Republican challenger Brooke Boden is vying to win the seat and add to the GOP majority.
Ourth’s voting record is about what you’d expect. He is considered a “liberal” member of the Iowa House. He has received a score of 100 percent from Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa.
His average score from conservative organizations is 24 percent. He receives 78 percent from liberal organizations.
But it is a DUI arrest from Oct. 05, 2019 that should be considered.
Yes, we’re all human. Yes, we all make mistakes.
I get that.
But lawmakers must be held to a higher standard. They, after all, are the ones who put these laws in place. And the reason they pass laws against drunk driving is the safety of Iowans.
It is one thing to make a mistake and break a law. It’s another to break a law that endangers the lives of Iowans.
And that’s what Ourth’s OWI did.
What’s worse, it wasn’t Ourth’s first violation. He was charged with OWI 1st offense, but that’s only because enough time lapsed between violations.
In May of 2000, he was guilty of OWI 2nd offense. In addition, he was charged with contempt of district court. That charge, though, was dismissed.
The two past offenses are the past. The 2019 offense is the present and if it were a first-time mistake, it would be easier to overlook.
But when one puts the two together, it paints a troubling picture.
Should voters really reward a lawmaker who breaks the law by re-electing them?
It’s a question only voters in that district can answer.
To Ourth’s credit, he apologized for his “terrible mistake.” He also said in a statement that he accepts full responsibility.
Ourth isn’t the first Iowa politician to receive a DUI while serving as a lawmaker. But the question is what should the standard be for those writing the laws they expect us to live by?
For what it’s worth, we hope Ourth has received whatever assistance he sought for this problem. And we hope that he overcomes those challenges.
People can certainly change and they can certainly “rebound.” We all need second chances.
But this isn’t a second chance — it’s a fourth.
We’ll find out what voters in Ourth’s district believe the standard should be in less than one week.