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Iowa GOP plotting to change the law to stop the state from suing Trump

Iowa’s Democratic attorney general has joined in lawsuits against the Trump administration — and the state GOP can’t stand it.

By Lisa Needham - April 23, 2019
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Donald Trump

Republican lawmakers in Iowa are so in thrall to Donald Trump that they want to steal their own attorney general’s power to join lawsuits against him.

Tom Miller, Iowa’s Democratic attorney general, has joined several multi-state lawsuits against the Trump administration, including lawsuits pushing back on Trump’s cruel family separation policy and challenging the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 census. And the state GOP hates him for it.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly is considering a proposal that would require Miller to get approval from the governor or the Assembly before his office could join any out-of-state lawsuits. Miller pointed out that deciding who to sue and why is one of the core functions of the attorney general’s office, so this bill strikes at the very heart of his power.

Members of the Iowa GOP say that because Iowa elected a Republican governor and have a majority Republican legislature, that makes stripping a Democratic attorney general of his powers just fine.

“We have a Republican governor, we have a Republican Legislature, and we have had an attorney general that has been going outside of the state taking part in lawsuits that are the complete antithesis to the agenda that the governor and the Legislature has set,” said Rep. Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake).

That wholly ignores the fact that Miller is now in his 10th term as Iowa’s attorney general and enjoys broad bipartisan support in the state. The GOP didn’t even run a candidate against him in the 2018 election. So even though Republicans evinced zero interest in actually holding this office, now they want to restrict what its occupant can do in order to prop up a deeply unpopular GOP president.

This is quickly becoming the Republican playbook at the state level. In Michigan, the lame duck GOP-controlled legislature worked to undermine the powers of an incoming Democratic attorney general. In Wisconsin, the GOP were sore losers after Scott Walker got beat by Tony Evers and tried to strip Evers of some power before he took office. And the Kansas GOP just moved to take away the Democratic governor’s power to appoint replacements to certain cabinet seats.

The proposal to limit Miller’s powers just cleared a key House budget committee, so it isn’t far-fetched to think it could become law. If it does, it’s just another way in which the GOP is willing to game the system.

If they can’t win, they’ll just cheat.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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