On Friday we reported about the irony of Bob Vander Plaats endorsing Sen. Randy Feenstra for Congress considering Feenstra played a huge role in dealing The FAMiLY LEADER one of its biggest legislative setbacks of 2019.
In summary, Feenstra flipped his position on fantasy sports and sports betting. In 2017, Feenstra said he would not allow a bill legalizing fantasy sports to be taken up in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which he chaired. He said it would expand gambling.
Yet in 2019, he not only allowed a bill legalizing fantasy sports to come up in his committee, he voted in favor of it. And not only did it legalize fantasy sports, it also legalized sports betting — which expands gambling even more.
However, when the bill was voted on in front of the full Iowa Senate, Feenstra changed his yes vote in committee to a no vote on the floor.
But there’s another piece to this puzzle…
That piece is former state representative and current lobbyist, Christopher Rants.
Rants works in Des Moines at the Capitol as a lobbyist. Among his clients:
- DraftKings, Inc. (a fantasy sports website)
- FanDuel, Inc. (another fantasy sports website)
- Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association
Rants registered in support of the bill to legalize fantasy sports and sports wagering on behalf of his three fantasy sports-related clients. Clearly Rants had a rooting interest in getting legislation passed to legalize fantasy sports.
Feenstra, as chair of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee, stood against House File 613 in 2017, which would have legalized fantasy sports in Iowa. He said he would not take it up because it was a major expansion of gambling.
Clearly something changed from 2017 to 2019. Feenstra allowed legislation to legalize fantasy sports in the Ways and Means Committee in 2019. He even voted for it in committee before voting against it on the floor.
Coincidentally, there was a big change from 2017 to 2019. Feenstra entered the race for Congress.
And in January of 2019, Iowa Four PAC launched. The PAC was founded to support Feenstra in his run for Congress.
That Iowa Four PAC was formed by… Christopher Rants, the same guy who was working hard to get fantasy sports legalized in Iowa.
That begs the question, what role did the Iowa Four PAC play in Feenstra’s flip on allowing a bill to legalize fantasy sports to come up in his Senate Ways and Means Committee?
“Rants has been one of the strongest and most consistent paid voices for gambling and tax increases,” said Congressman Steve King. “Rants is the utter embodiment of the Establishment Left wing of the Republican Party. The quid pro quo is his MO.”
Jeremy Taylor, a Woodbury County supervisor and challenger for the Fourth District congressional seat, said Feenstra will have trouble explaining the reversal of his commitment to voters back home and the subsequent lobbyist connection.
“We get used to politicians claiming one thing back home as a principle but flip-flopping to another in Des Moines or D.C. for what appears to be a matter of personal gain,” said Taylor, who is a National Guard chaplain as well. “Republicans we’ve talked to all across the Fourth District are looking for a principled, constitutional conservative who can win and then help transform rather than conform to the ways of Washington. Iowans expect and deserve honest, forthright representation.”
This is not the first time questions have popped up regarding Feenstra from his opponents. Congressman King questioned Feenstra’s assertion to the King campaign that he would never run against King. Taylor questioned Feenstra’s appearance on Don Lemon’s far-left, liberal talk show within hours of King’s New York Times controversy. Feenstra encouraged Lemon’s audience to contribute to his campaign.
You can see most of the interview here.
Others have wondered why Feenstra deleted nearly a decade worth of tweets from his Twitter account around the time he announced his campaign for Congress.