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Tom Conley is one of the top security minds in the United States – if not the world. He has the credentials to back it up – which we’ll highlight a bit later. But right now he is in the midst of a public relations tug-of-war where both of his hands are essentially tied behind his back as The Des Moines Register and rogue Black Lives Matter activists attempt to cancel him.

“They’re clearly, clearly after me and that’s what I’ve sadly seen the Register do to people for a very long time,” he said. “It’s voodoo journalism. Fake News is one thing, but voodoo journalism is a purposeful omission or misrepresentation of the facts within a publication that is meant to do damage or harm as opposed to fairly and completely informing their audience. And it’s clear to me, in my view, and a lot of others, that’s what happened. It’s crystal clear to me that this is a cancel culture issue.”

It is welldocumented that Des Moines, like other cities across America, had to deal with violent, lawless riots carried out by Black Lives Matter activists in the summer of 2020. Property destroyed. Police cars damaged.

Conley said he fully supports, believes in and would die for peoples’ First Amendment rights. He said protecting everyone’s Constitutional rights is why he chose to serve in the United States military for nearly three decades.

“I’m a huge supporter of that,” he said. “And to peacefully protest.”

His company has several accounts downtown and the National Guard activated several of his company’s people who were guardsmen to help on the state level after the incident occurred with George Floyd.

“That basically gutted our ability to surge,” he said. “And so, there are some customers that we couldn’t surge on. What I was concerned about is my customers who called me and told me they were terrified. And they used those words – ‘terrified’ – of assaults to them, their people, their property and their customers.

“So what I ended up doing is, I worked a few weeks. Sometimes 24 hours a day, sometimes 20 hours a day.”

Conley went like that for about three weeks.

“What I encountered, kind of right away when I started posting up, is this group of about 10-12 of what appeared to be white males.”

Those males would come from across the street, throw bricks and rocks at him – the same things they were doing to law enforcement.

“I didn’t get any frozen bottles or any glass, but there were bricks and rocks,” he said. “I never got hit with a brick, but I did with rocks.”

Conley wore a vest with black pants, but no helmet.

“Fortunately, I’m really good at dodging,” he said. “This didn’t happen every night, but it did more nights than not.”

After two and a half to three weeks of being pelted with rocks and having bricks thrown at him, he said he saw a couple of the guys and recognized them because of their masks. They began to approach him.

“Now, all the time I was getting pelted with rocks and bricks thrown at me, I never once pulled my firearm. I never once went after them. I never pulled my baton. I never pulled my mace. It was purely defensive,” he said. “According to state law, they represented deadly force threat, and I could’ve shot them and been well within the law. Instead, I maintained a tremendous level of restraint.”

Conley said he also believes their actions met the state’s definition of terrorism. That comes from Iowa Code 708A.

“Terrorism way precedes 9-11,” he said. “That first part of the definition of terrorism defines what they were doing to me – pretty doggone well. And just because they weren’t criminally charged for their crimes does not mean that they weren’t guilty of that behavior.”

Conley said his customers were telling him they were terrified, and he experienced the activity which clearly meets the State of Iowa’s definition of terrorism. So, when those individuals approached him, he thought the fight would be on. He never referred to peaceful protesters as terrorists or their Constitutionally protected acts of peaceful protesting as terrorism.

“One night, two of the younger males that were part of this larger group of all white males approached me and said, ‘we just want to apologize,'” he said. “Well, they had realized or found out somehow that I was security and not law enforcement. So they were apologizing to me for throwing bricks and rocks at me for two and a half or three weeks. I could’ve detained them and called the police for the crimes they had committed, but I decided not to. The police were really, really, really, really busy, and I wanted to find out why they had been hurling rocks and bricks at me.”

Conley had a conversation with the guys. One was 19 and the other was 20.

“They said they were from Ohio,” he said. “They had been hired by BLM off some ad. They were brought here all-expenses-paid, they were being put up in a hotel or some lodging, and they said they were being paid to raise hell, scare people and break things. That was their job. They made clear their job was not to assault people that were not police.”

Conley said they told him it was OK to assault police, however. The 19-year-old said he was making $15 an hour, while the 20-year-old said he was making $25 an hour.

“They said they were living with their parents in their parent’s basement and they didn’t have jobs,” Conley said. “I asked them what they knew about BLM, and they said really nothing. They just knew they were getting paid to do this, and they thought it’d be something different. I was so very appalled by them being paid to come to our community to scare people and destroy property.”

I asked once more if all three were black.

“Oh no, they were all white,” Conley said. “The 10 or 11 or 12 – this group of people – were all white. They were all white and all younger males as far as I could tell. Some of them may have been white females.”

At the time, Conley said people knew America was on fire but nobody knew if it was organic or not.

“I’m fatigued,” he said at that point. “For some reason, that just really adversely affected me at a core level.”

Conley had been keeping the area law enforcement leaders updated with what he had been witnessing. He wrote the chief and others an email.

“To him, it was in context,” Conley said. “But I said something about these sissy ass bitches couldn’t start a lawnmower let alone a movement. If I made that statement, I would have specifically and only been talking about these two white males and the 11 or 12 others in that group who were pelting me with stuff. That’s who I would have been talking about. The only mention of BLM was that they were hired by BLM. That’s exactly what they told me. Had the Register reporters done their jobs correctly and professionally, they would have provided me with the opportunity to address any and all reported comments in context. But, they sadly chose an “ambush” approach instead. Any comments I made would have been allowed to place in context would likely have ruined their story given their clear objectives, which was to harm and not to inform.”

Remember that email for later in this story.

Register reporter arrested

During the May riots in Des Moines, Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was arrested. However, she was eventually found not guilty of her charges because of her claim she was covering the protest as a reporter – despite not having any press credentials visible or even in her possession at the time of her arrest. Also of note, her boyfriend was with her at the protest where she was supposedly working.

In January of 2021, The Des Moines Register published multiple hit pieces against law enforcement.

Headlines included:

How many investigations, reprimands does it take for a police officer to be fired? For this one, at least 13

The Des Moines Police Department’s policies leave taxpayers on the hook but in the dark about complaints made against officers

Cedar Rapids fired a police officer for lying. Two years and two police jobs later, Iowa decertified him

All three had the same person listed on the byline: Andrea Sahouri.

Carol Hunter, the editor of the Register, wrote a piece attempting to justify the series of stories about law enforcement in Iowa.

These articles did not sit well with Conley, who penned a letter to the editor that was partially published by the Register. Partially.

Conley noted he is a retired senior commissioned officer from the U.S. Navy where he served nearly 30 years. He highlighted his experience as a municipal police officer and five years of service as a commissioner on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

“Therefore, I have some basis from which to opine on these articles,” Conley wrote.

He said personnel from the Des Moines Police Department are by far the agency his company works with most.

“We work with multiple DMPD officers at all levels weekly,” he wrote. “We have consistently had a very positive and far different experience with the DMPD than was expressed in these articles. I was deeply disappointed as well as troubled after I completed reading this article at what I view as a continuation of the never-ending attacks on the police. Not only did the articles clearly try to paint the DMPD with a broad brush in a very negative and grossly unfair light based on a few cases of misconduct, but one of the article’s co-authors, Andrea May Sahouri, is facing criminal charges filed by the Des Moines Police Department that pre-dated this article’s publication by several months. That is a clear conflict of interest and smacks of retaliation against the DMPD.”

Conley told The Iowa Standard seven months later, the Register’s series of recent articles disparaging him is still “real clear” retaliation.

“At a very minimum, Sahouri shouldn’t have had anything to do with those January articles when she was under criminal charges,” he said. “I viewed those articles as completely inappropriate. They hit the Des Moines Police Department particularly hard. And the truth is that the police department does its best to get rid of bad cops, but the courts, the unions and other bodies sometimes prohibit the police department’s ability to fire bad cops. That is not the police department’s fault.”

He was prompted and ethically compelled to write the Op-Ed supporting law enforcement and Scott Sanders, the Des Moines City Manager.

“(They published) most of it,” he said. “But I did, in my editorial, point out the conflict of interest with Sahouri – they did not print that.”

On top of what he saw as an attack on law enforcement, he said he believed at the time the police were under siege and suicides among law enforcement are up quite a bit. Police were quitting and retiring in record numbers, and they sadly still are.

“When police get to the end of their career, they can do what’s called a DROP Program and it’s a three-year term,” Conley said. “If they’ll stay those three years, then they get paid extra money. Officers weren’t even staying to finish out the DROP Program. Officers were retiring as soon as they could – some quit, some killed themselves. And the reason I wrote that OpEd is because the Register tried to frame the police with the goal of assisting anarchists with the “defund the police” movement. I know these people. I know them well. I simply will not sit idle and allow a failing newspaper, or anyone else, to disparage our great men and women of law enforcement.”

Providing services for city governments

Conley’s security firm operates like a private law enforcement agency as opposed to a traditional guard company. He has been in business for 45 years. Some of his workforce goes to the police academy for training. His company has emergency vehicle permits – red lights and sirens, and they have direct communications with public safety personnel on public safety radio channels.

“We operate at that higher, higher level,” he said. “We’re careful about who we take as customers. We don’t want to get big.”

But over the years cities have become bigger targets and police resources have dropped. Private security agencies, like Conley’s, have filled the gap and successfully entered into public-private partnerships.

In 2018, Conley’s company was named the National Sheriffs’ Association Public-Private Partnership of the Year. The following year The Conley Group was recognized as the best security company globally. Conley was selected as one of the 25 most influential people in security globally.

“There are about 200 million people who work in security globally,” he said. “This award has been around since I think 2004 or 2005, and this is the first time anybody from a contract security company was selected for that award. You’re the best when other people say you are, not when you say you are.”

Conley’s company has contracts with both the city of Des Moines and the city of West Des Moines. His company began providing security for West Des Moines about two-and-a-half years ago at City Hall.

“They had had several threats — people coming into the city hall threatening people,” he said. “And so the police department actually hired us to come in there. And I remember receiving a call from the then assistant chief, and he said the assignment may last a day, it may last week, but they kind of needed our help with that.”

Conley obliged. It turned into nearly two years of a temporary partnership. West Des Moines then did a request for a proposal, and The Conley Group was selected as the successful bidder. It was awarded a two-year contract with an option to extend for a third year by mutual consent.

Conley said they’ve always done a good job for West Des Moines and never had a problem or complaint.

The contract with West Des Moines says it can be terminated for cause, defined as any material breach of the terms and conditions of the agreement, upon five days written notice and may be terminated without cause upon 30 days written notice.

In the fall of 2019, Des Moines city officials contacted The Conley Group because the city was having security problems in their city hall.

“One person came in and induced a panic attack on one of their clerks,” Conley said. “They had these fake journalists coming in and wandering around everybody’s offices. And so we were hired by the city of Des Moines to provide temporary security starting on Jan. 6 of 2020.”

Des Moines decided it wanted to keep security and issued an RFP for security services City Hall and the hazardous materials site.

The Conley Group was awarded a three-year contract on Oct. 19, 2020, with unanimous approval from the Des Moines City Council.

“Part of that contract gave the city of Des Moines the ability to add other services to it,” he said.

In the spring, the city let Conley know they were thinking about adding security to the armory building and the municipal services center (MSC). Conley told the city his company would be willing to help with that.

On June 1, Conley started with the security at the armory building and the municipal services center. The city did an addendum to the contract to add those two sites from October of 2020.

The permanent contract lasts three years with an option to renew for another three years by mutual consent. Des Moines has two years and two months left on that original contract.

Register retaliates against Conley

Fast forward to July 16.

“It was a Friday night,” Conley said. “I got a call from Melody Mercado who is a reporter with the Register. I had customers here. It was probably seven, maybe 7:30. I had worked with her before on a couple of other stories.”

Conley said she used to be with Channel 13, and didn’t know her that well. But she said she wanted to talk, and he told her he had to get back to work because he was the only one in the office at the time.

“She asked me something about my comments from last summer and did I think that would affect our funding request that was on the agenda for Monday night at the city council meeting,” Conley said. “I said I didn’t know any funding was on there (the agenda).

“What that was, it was for that June 1 contract for the MSC and the armory.”

Mercado, the Register reporter, asked if Conley thought his comments from last summer would affect the agenda item.

“I asked her what comments,” he said. “‘Well, you called these people sissy ass bitches.’ I said I don’t remember sending emails. I said I just don’t.”

She repeated it again.

“I said, ‘Melody, if I said something, I stand behind what I said or what I wrote.’ But I said I’d have to see them. Never offered to show me, nothing,” Conley said. “And I was starting to get pretty pissed off because I was ambushed. That’s not how real reporters do things – they call, they sit down and they go over things.

“In retrospect, I believe the article was already written and what she was trying to do was do a gotcha to take anything I said out of context. And, that is what occurred.”

Conley returned to his meeting after letting her know that anyone who doesn’t want to do business with his company shouldn’t, referring to clients that did not otherwise have a contractual obligation.

“And then the first article of many was in the Sunday paper on July 18,” Conley said. “Basically it was a repeat of all the same stuff. Basically sissy ass bitch stuff. Of course, the Register didn’t do the interview, didn’t do the proper stuff. It was sort of the gotcha thing.”

Conley said the Register also said there was stuff on his Facebook account as well as information he sent to the chief of police.

“So, I let the facilities people who we report to at the city know about that call,” Conley said. “So, that comes out on Sunday. Monday the city council pulls that item off the agenda. And that would probably be the 19th. That’s the first problem. And the problem is, they should have recognized all of what the Register reported, even if all true, as a First Amendment, freedom of speech issue and not allow it to interfere with the contract.”

Conley said he has committed no crimes, no civil tort and no breach of contract.

“Yet they pulled it off the agenda to ‘look at it, to start an investigation,'” he said.

Guess who was a co-author of some of the earliest hit pieces on Conley in the Register?

Sahouri.

The Register detailed emails sent from Conley in which he highlighted various businesses that support Black Lives Matter and said he wouldn’t be doing business with those organizations. One of those was PetSmart:

“PetSmart should be ashamed of themselves,” he wrote according to the Register. “PetSmart is now on the list of places where I will NOT be shopping.”

They highlighted a June 17, 2020 email he sent that was a link to a Prager video claiming the media wouldn’t acknowledge Black Lives Matter as a hateful ideology that fuels anti-police sentiment.

Conley’s social media sins?

*Replying “yes” when someone suggested the Des Moines Black Lives Matter movement be labeled a terrorist group.

*Saying police showed an “AMAZING level of restraint with these snot-nosed, punk-assed, basement dwellers.”

*Calling local Black Lives Matter activists (unknown if he indeed was referring to local BLM activists or the individuals from Ohio he referenced above) as nothing but “weak, punk-assed little sissy bitches who live in their parent’s basement.” Clearly, based on what he told The Iowa Standard, it would seem this was directed specifically at the paid activists from Ohio he talked to during the riots.

*Writing “finally” when sharing a post about the arrest of Des Moines BLM leader Matthew Bruce.

The Register has written about the issue over and over. It has fixated on Conley, almost as if he is next on some “secret” hitlist the newspaper maintains.

Conley maintains some frustration from not being shown the emails or the Facebook posts. He said he’s searched his page and hasn’t been able to find them.

“I’m not the kind of guy who is going to try to erase posts,” he said. “I will, if I did it, I’ll own it and either I’ll explain it or I’ll apologize for it. But I’m not going to erase stuff.”

The Register included links to the Facebook posts it reported on, but those links are broken it seems.

This one is broken. As is this one.

West Des Moines decides to end contract

On July 20, 2021, Conley was asked to meet with the West Des Moines city manager, Tom Hadden and councilwoman Cherry “Renee” Hardman on July 22, 2021. He obliged.

During the meeting on July 22, Conley entered city hall to meet with city manager Tom Hadden and councilwoman Hardman.

“And there’s this other guy in there and he’s introduced as Dick Scieszinski, the city attorney for West Des Moines,” Conley said. “And I made a comment that I didn’t know I needed to bring my attorney here with me. Everybody was said, ‘oh no, no, no this is just a conversation.'”

Hardman, who is essentially a BLM activist herself, told Conley she had prayed about it and before she made a decision whether to support him or not she wanted to ask him some questions.

“I said OK,” he said. “So we spent the better part of an hour with her asking me only First Amendment right questions.”

Conley said Hardman inquired about his statement about PetSmart. She asked why he wouldn’t shop there because they had a BLM sign.

“I said, ‘councilwoman, I don’t think businesses should be taking political sides.’ I said, ‘I don’t have a blue line flag in my office even though I’m a strong supporter of law enforcement.’ This is a no kidder, she turns to the city manager and says, ‘what’s that?’ (the blue line flag) Tom Hadden said that’s an American flag with a blue line through it and it’s a symbol for Blue Lives Matter.

“And she goes, ‘Oh, OK.’ I found that stunning, actually.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Hardman offered to meet with Conley in an effort to tell him more about BLM and asked about criminal activity. Conley accepted that offer but said he has not heard back from Hardman.

“I said, ‘Well ma’am, I’m a law-and-order guy. If people break the law, it doesn’t matter what color they are; it’s behaviors.’ When I told her about the two white guys that talked with me, and all this time she clearly tried to put on an air of being nicey-nice, but that dropped four or five times. I have interviewed and interrogated probably more than 1,000 people. There were four or five times that her masking behavior sort of slipped away and got down to the real Renee. When I said to you they were two white guys and she said well how come you didn’t say that? I’m thinking, ‘well, because it doesn’t matter what color they are if they’re throwing bricks and rocks at me.’ But that was one of those times that if looks could kill.”

Conley’s attorney sent a letter to Hadden and Scieszinski after he was notified that the city council would consider canceling the contract for an illegal reason.

The letter from Conley’s attorney laid out his First Amendment rights.

“Iowa is a right-to-work state, so I can fire somebody for no reason, but I can’t fire someone because they’re black,” Conley said. “So, the city can fire me for any reason, but not for an illegal reason. And what that letter basically says is if you exercise that option, we’re going to sue you.”

After the letter was received the council decided to pull the item off the agenda due to legal concerns.

On Aug. 16, the West Des Moines City Council decided to end the contract with Conley’s company. Conley said he is proceeding with a lawsuit against the city as well as the mayor and city council members personally.

Al Womble, who is the political director at the Iowa Federation of Labor, was one of the residents to speak at two city council meetings in support of punishing Conley’s private business for exercising his First Amendment-protected free speech.

After the meeting, Womble posted a photo with a group of people celebrating the city’s decision.

“A great day in West Des Moines,” Womble wrote. “The city council voted to terminate the contract for the Conley Group after the derogatory comments by the CEO. I want to thank the mayor and city council for voting for what is right, but most of all I want to thank the amazing community leaders shown here who fought for what is right.”

Womble, for what it is worth, also had concerns about the May 2020 riots in Des Moines.

He noted he had been called every name imaginable, been spit on, hit with rocks and bricks, tear-gassed and had his life threatened. He called on individuals to donate to the NAACP, Creative Visions or Urban Dreams rather than throwing rocks and bricks. He called on people to join the Iowa Democrat Black Caucus rather than joining a “mob.” He said he went to the Capitol to try to “calm things down” but “one idiot threw something and we got tear-gassed again.” Womble acknowledged on May 30, 2020, that events went “in a direction I hoped it would not go.” He kept thinking “I really didn’t want this for my city, or for the state I love so much.”

Ironically, Conley was criticizing the same people Womble appeared to have concerns about during the riots. But by July 19, 2021, he had seemingly forgotten just how dangerous the BLM riots in Des Moines and throughout our nation were.

“There is no way the city of Des Moines should expand the contract for Conley Group after the CEO called protestors for racial justice terrorists,” Womble wrote.

Conley also highlighted the flip-flop from Womble.

“Mr. Womble clearly failed to comprehend the sheer hypocrisy and utter absurdity by his criticizing me for the same activity he himself criticized,” Conley said. “That’s the core problem with one flipping their position to fit a political narrative and particular ideology. For people with real integrity, there is only one truth and that does not change over time.”

Des Moines yet to take action

Conley met with Des Moines city officials on July 21. The fate of his company’s contract with the city remains up in the air. But, he said the city officials noted nothing has been wrong with the service his company provides.

“They told me that they and everybody else was happy with our service,” Conley said. “No problems with our security service that we were contracted to provide. All of the questions and all of the discussions were about my reported comments which were all First Amendment protected speech.”

It’s been pulled off the agenda in Des Moines meetings as well.

What about the oath to the Constitution

For Conley, a man who served his country, and has been recognized internationally in his profession, said he cannot understand why his First Amendment rights are not being defended.

“I have a First Amendment right,” Conley said. “Nobody has come out and said this is a First Amendment issue. I gotta tell you, I’m appalled by that. I’m appalled. When I took my oath for commission, when I said support and defend the Constitution of the United States, I meant it and I mean it to this day even though I’m retired. The same is sadly not true of all to who have taken an oath.”

Conley expressed a grave concern that the city mayors and city council members did not stick up for his First Amendment right to free speech as is guaranteed to him, and to everyone else, by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Iowa. All city council members and mayors in the State of Iowa are required, by law, to take an oath prior to assuming an elected office. According to the Code of Iowa, Sec. 63.10 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/63.10.pdf, city mayors and city council members, among others, “shall take and subscribe an oath substantially as follows:

I,……………………, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and that I will faithfully and impartially, to the best of my ability, discharge all the duties of the office of ……………….. (naming it) in (naming the township, city, county, district, or state, as the case may be), as now or hereafter required by law.”

Since every city council member and mayor must take that oath, Conley does not understand how anyone can “solemnly swear to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Iowa” but not support his right to free speech as is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the State of Iowa Constitution.

Did the mayors and city council members not understand the oath they took or do the words they spoke when they solemnly swore to support the Constitution of the United States not mean anything to them?

“You can’t support the Constitution and then ignore somebody’s First Amendment right to say something that is clearly First Amendment speech,” Conley said.

Conley is convinced much of this is rooted in his strong defense of the police.

“This is clearly retaliatory for me standing up for the police last January,” he said. “That Sahouri should not have been involved in anything. I believe that Cherry “Renee” Hardman is a racist. I just felt that. And I don’t say that lightly. It is not only highly troubling to me that someone like Hardman can serve on a city council, but I am appalled she is the CEO of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Iowa. Anyone with what I see as her obvious lack of character should not have anything to do with our kids. Her personal values appear to me to be in direct conflict with the mission of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization. I will not be financially supporting Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Iowa as long as Hardman is there.

“It’s horrifying to me that any city council would intentionally compromise the safety and security of everyone who works in, and visits, city hall just to support an ideologically driven member of the council who possesses an agenda that is harmful to the populace. That is morally and ethically nothing short of criminal in my view. That vote to cancel security at city hall was an act of cowardice by people who should know better.”

As for that meeting, Conley’s attorney noted it was an ethical violation of Iowa Attorney Standards for Professional Conduct by the city attorney being present without Conley’s legal representation.

“I don’t know when these articles are going to end, but boy, you talk about unfair,” he said. “We have been in business for 45 years serving highly diverse communities, and I have never once had a complaint. Never once have we treated anybody differently, unequally, disparagingly. Never. Never. We’ve got higher than the population percentage in minorities (as employees). I mean, I don’t treat anybody differently due to their skin color and never will.

“The Register is trying to interfere with our business. There’s really nothing I can do about it. But that’s the real story and that’s the truthful story.”

Conley maintains that the Register took his comments about two white people who told him they were hired by BLM and terrorist activity that was being perpetrated on him and his customers and conflated that with Conley saying First Amendment, protected speech and peaceful protests – those people were terrorists and therefore Conley is a racist.

“Not true,” he said. “Demonstrably not true. There’s an element of bullying, and I’ve seen them do this before to people.”

If not for double standards…

Conley hasn’t seen the emails the Register reported on since he wrote them. Of interest, however, he believes he likely wrote the term BLM rather than Black Lives Matter. BLM, to him, means the Black Lives Matter organization.

Yet the Des Moines Register repeatedly referred to the group Conley was talking about as the local Black Liberation Movement. The original Des Moines Black Lives Matter group attempted to rebrand itself after the Black Lives Matter movement suffered a serious decline in popularity due to its lawless behavior.

But obviously, even the Register isn’t buying the rebranding.

Conley never knew anything about the Black Liberation Movement – he only believed BLM referred to the Black Lives Matter organization. I asked him specifically if he was referencing the Black Liberation Movement specifically.

“No. No way. No way,” he said.

Also of note, the Register took issue with Conley’s assertion that the BLM rioters were guilty of terrorism.

Their main point of contention:

“According to arrest records previously obtained by the Register, no one arrested during last year’s protests in Des Moines was charged with terrorism.”

Well, according to everything The Iowa Standard has seen, nobody in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 has been charged with insurrection, yet the Register routinely calls those individuals “insurrectionists.”

“If a United States Military Veteran who served our great nation honorably and with distinction for nearly 30 years does not have a First Amendment right to free speech, I do not know who does,” Conley said.

The Iowa Standard reached out to The Des Moines Register and asked editor Carol Hunter a few questions. She answered all four

  1. Why wasn’t Tom Conley allowed to view the emails/Facebook posts the Register reporter called to ask him about?

“In his phone interview with reporter Melody Mercado, Tom Conley did not ask to see his Facebook posts or emails. The Facebook posts were public posts, so he could view them. Mercado gave Conley a general description of what the emails said. The emails were obtained through a public records request. Conley could have obtained those same records from the city.”

2. Why did the Register edit out his opinion that allowing Andrea Sahouri to write the pieces about police discipline being a conflict of interest from his letter to the editor in January?

“The Register edits all letters to the editor. Trims are made for many reasons, including for length. Decisions made by the opinion editor are made entirely separately and independently from decisions made by the Register’s news reporters and editor.”

3. Was Andrea Sahouri’s boyfriend being paid by the Des Moines Register at the May 2020 protest to provide “security” for her?

“No.”

4. I’m curious what prompted the Register to file a request for Tom Conley’s emails.

“The public records request was for all emails related to BLM to and from City Manager Scott Sanders and to and from Police Chief Dana Wingert. The request does not mention Conley, but it surfaced the emails in question. Our journalists file many public records requests as a routine part of our reporting to gain insight into how public policy is being formed and who is affecting that process.”

Author: Jacob Hall