Dr. Cynthia Hanson filed objections to the nomination petitions for four of the candidates running for Congress in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District. She objected to petitions filed by Sen. Randy Feenstra, Congressman Steve King, Bret Richards and Jeremy Taylor.
“These are unique and extraordinary times and I have been informed that your office has taken steps to have limited social contact and ensure social distancing at the hearing,” Hanson wrote in her March 20 letter. “I had a brief conversation with Molly Widen of your office and she outlined how the process will be handled.”
The only Republican running for the nomination who did not have their petitions challenged is Steve Reeder.
Hanson ran against Congressman King in the Republican primary in 2018. Many of Hanson’s objections dealt with the circulator portion of the nomination petitions. Iowa Code states:
“The printed name, signature, address and phone number of the person responsible for circulating the petition page.”
She detailed her objections to Feenstra’s nomination papers. They are:
– Three of Feenstra’s campaign workers circulated petitions for the campaign and listed Feenstra’s home address in the circulator box. Emily Schwickerath, Josh Perschall and Matthew Leopold all listed Feenstra’s home address. Leopold and Schwickerath, however, are registered to vote in Dallas County. On one petition for Chickasaw County, Schwickerath listed her address as 2689 NAW 165th Ln, Clive, IA 50325. Leopold listed that same Clive address on a petition from Palo Alto County.
Hanson said that Iowa Code calls for circulators to list their address.
“If this objection is to be approved, Feenstra would qualify in two counties (18 below the minimum),” Hanson wrote. “If this objection is rejected, the address box means little and any circulator may list 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC as their address.”
– Feenstra filed with the FEC as “Randall Feenstra,” yet submitted an affidavit of candidacy and nomination papers listing his name as “Randy Feenstra.” In fact, almost every nomination paper lists “Randy Feenstra” as his name. If this objection is approved, he would qualify for the ballot in zero counties.
“If there is no strict attention paid to matching names, an individual could file with the FEC as ‘George Smith,’ submit an affidavit as ‘Jerry Smith,’ and collect signatures as ‘James Smith,’ and still qualify for the ballot.
– The circulator box was added to nomination petitions due to recent Iowa electoral history, Hanson wrote.
The intent of this law was for the circulator to have witnessed the signatures being made and be able to report to the panel that the signatures were legitimate. Schwickerath and Perschall signed that they circulated petitions that ended up collecting 793 signatures on Feb. 3, 2020 from 20 different counties. That’s the date of the Iowa Caucus.
“According to the Feenstra campaign’s social media pages, Schwickerath attended caucuses in Boone County and Perschall attended the Webster County caucus. However, it is physically impossible to be present in dozens of caucus locations necessary to collect 793 signatures at once. Instead, a different individual witnessed the signatures being made at the beginning of caucus, and Schwickerath and Perschall added their names after the fact without circulating the petition,” Hanson wrote. “If this objection is to be approved, Feenstra would qualify in 16 counties (4 below the minimum) assuming that Schwickerath testifies that she witnessed the Boone County signatures being made. If this objection is rejected, the circulator box is meaningless, these important recent reforms have no enforcement measure, and election security in the state of Iowa is nothing but an open door.”
– Objections are also listed to specific counties. In Clay County, for example, Feenstra filed 94 signatures, which are six over the required minimum. According to the challenge, though, there are seven duplicate signatures, four voters from other counties who signed for Clay County and six unidentifiable persons.
In Pocahontas County, there are 12 unidentifiable persons. Feenstra filed 46 signatures, four more than the required minimum. All 12 “unidentifiable persons” are not registered at the address given on the petitions, Hanson’s complaint alleges.
Hardin County had similar issues. Feenstra filed 95 signatures, six over the minimum. However, there are six duplicates and one unidentifiable person.
Plymouth County had 167 signatures, which was eight over the minimum. Hanson counted five duplicates, six unidentifiable persons and one person who failed to date their signature.
In Calhoun County, Feenstra filed 63 signatures, eight more than the minimum required. There is one duplicate and eight unidentifiable persons.
Story County also has similar issues for Feenstra.
The objections list each individual signature being challenged.
Hanson’s challenges to Congressman King’s petitions include concerns with the circulator box.
“Jeff King signed that he had personally collected 2,846 signatures on Feb. 3, 2020 from 36 different counties,” Hanson wrote. “According to records from caucus night, Jeff King was present at the Sac County caucus in order to be elected a county delegate. Moreover, it is physically impossible to be present in over 100 caucus locations necessary to collect 2,846 signatures at once. Instead, a different individual witnessed the signatures being made at the beginning of caucus, and Jeff King typed his name into the circulator box without circulating the petition. If this objection is to be approved, Steve King would qualify in one county (19 below the minimum) assuming that Jeff King testifies that he witnessed the Sac County signatures being made.
“If this objection is rejected, the circulator box is meaningless, these important recent reforms have no enforcement measurement and election security in the state of Iowa is nothing but an open door.”
– As for Hanson’s objections to Richards, essentially they don’t matter. Even if her objections are approved, Richards would still qualify in 33 counties.
– Hanson objected to Taylor’s petitions due to Taylor’s residency issues. Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill found Taylor ceased residing at 3215 Grandview Blvd., Sioux City after purchasing a home at 5202 Christy Road, Sioux City in May of 2019. Taylor’s voter registration at Grandview was subsequently revoked after this discovery.
Following the decision in late January, Taylor began writing the Christy Road address as his own in the circulator box. However, between June 2019 and January 2020, Taylor used the Grandview address.
Hanson objected to some of Taylor’s papers because Taylor neglected to list his phone number on the petitions.
Hanson also brought up objections to the circulator box regarding Taylor. She also laid out objections to specific signatures in specific counties similar to what she did for Feenstra’s petitions.
“If some of these blatant violations to the intent and letter of the Iowa Code are left unenforced, it would be an affront to the Voter ID and election security measures pursued by this panel’s respective offices,” she wrote. “Our elections would become lawless, seeking public office would not be granted the appropriate seriousness, and our democratic nominating process would continue unsecured.”
The objections will be heard on Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. by the State Objection Panel. The panel includes Democrat Iowa AG Tom Miller, Democrat Auditor Rob Sand and Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate.