Senator Harkin Continues Shameful Demagoguery

For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Senator Harkin Continues Shameful Demagoguery
Harkin’s rhetoric brings embarrassment to Iowans

DES MOINES- Following Senator Harkin’s comments yesterday referring to Americans and Iowans concerned with the exploding deficits and the ballooning debt as part of a “cult-fringe”, Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said Iowans deserve an apology from Chairman Tom Harkin after his “shameful” remarks and implored the Senator to offer solutions instead of more empy rhetoric.

“Senator Harkin’s has chosen to serve as a divisive voice rather than  a solutions-oriented leader while simultaneously embarrassing Iowans with his shameful rhetoric,” Strawn said. “The millions of Americans and thousands of Iowans who fueled the Republican landslide in 2010 did so in part because of the growing debt burden facing our next generation.  The fact that Harkin chose to call those of us concerned with the $48,000 per person debt share as part of a “cult-fringe” speaks volumes about his temperament as a leader and the lack of consideration he has for his constituents. Iowans deserve an apology”

Strawn went on to say that Harkin’s comments referring ti those who support Cut, Cap and Balance as “dead-beat debtors” underscores the Senator’s detachment from reality. Democrats have controlled both chambers of Congress since 2006 and Senator Harkin has not only voted for but has strongly advocated for the failed stimulus and ObamaCare and is leading the charge in the Senate for a second stimulus. Additionally, Harkin’s office held a private meeting with more than 400 lobbyist and special interest representatives to strategize on how to avoid any Republican spending cuts.  A release issued at that time by the Iowa GOP is copied below.

“The Harkin/Obama agenda has recklessly spent trillions of taxpayers dollars, tripling our deficit and adding $4 trillion dollars to the national debt while increasing unemployment by 25% in the last two years alone. Harkin’s comments are an attempt to deflect accountability and to distract from the failed economic policies of both the President and Senate Democrats.”

For Immediate Release

February 7, 2011

Chairman Strawn Calls on Harkin to Shed Light on Lobbyist Meeting
Asks him to detail attendees, agenda

DES MOINES-  Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, in a letter sent this morning, called on Senator Tom Harkin to shed light on a meeting organized by his staff that reportedly included more than 400 Washington lobbyists. Reports surfaced late last week that Harkin’s staff invited special interest representatives to strategize on how to fend off congressional Republicans proposed spending reductions.

“Senator Harkin showed a clear disregard for his constituents and our system of representative government by putting the interests of Washington lobbyists before those he represents. Iowans hold their elected leaders to a higher standard,” Strawn said. “I urge Harkin to give a full account of what happened at the meeting to help restore transparency to the legislative process. Failure to do so will leave Iowans wondering who Tom Harkin works for in Washington.”

Text of the letter sent to Harkin’s office is copied below:

February 7, 2011

Senator Tom Harkin
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Harkin:

I write to inquire about your January 24 meeting with more than 400 Washington lobbyists and special interest representatives arranged by your staff person on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Services. Reports from last week suggest that the meeting was an opportunity for “stakeholders” to fight against your Republican colleagues’ proposed spending reductions. Labeling lobbyists and Washington special interests as “stakeholders” clearly indicates a viewpoint that such groups comprise your constituency as opposed to those in Iowa who elected you to serve.  I find this both troubling and offensive.

Unfortunately, this was not the only offensive suggestion included in your staff person’s email.  As reported by ABC News, the email states: “One thing everyone should be able to agree on now is that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that a higher [Labor, Health & Human Services] allocation improves the chances for every stakeholder group to receive more funding.” 

In addition to running counter to the mandate sent by voters last November, your meeting suggests a lack of respect for our process of representative government. Rather than taking your counsel from those you represent, you called on an army of lobbyists to advise you on how to spend taxpayer dollars. 

After the reports of the meeting were published on Friday, your spokesperson boasted about the event’s success and said that it was an open-door meeting held in the Senate’s largest committee room. Her response suggests that you would be willing to bring some transparency to these reports and answer more questions about this meeting for the Iowans who were not privileged enough to receive an invitation to participate. As a constituent, I would appreciate responses to the following:

•             Who was invited to the meeting, and how was the list of attendees developed?

•             Who organized the meeting, and under what authority?

•             Of those invited, who attended the meeting and what interests do they represent?

•             What was the agenda for this meeting, and what was discussed?

•             Did any Iowans participate in the meeting?

Iowans should be placed in higher regard by both you and your staff with respect to the legislative process. Although you cannot undo what has already been done, on behalf of the Iowans you represent, I look forward to receiving your response.





Matthew N. Strawn

Chairman, Republican Party of Iowa




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