U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, announced Friday that both she and her husband, Matt Hinson, would sell all their publicly traded stocks to better ensure public trust.

Members of Congress do not have to divest in this way when taking office. Many do not.

Most recently, this led to scandal during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when some U.S. senators and representatives were found to have bought and sold stocks rapidly following briefings on the pandemic ahead of that information reaching the public. This came to a head with a Department of Justice investigation into U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Hinson said Friday that her family selling their shares aligned with campaign promises to help “restore integrity and trust in public service.”

“Keeping that promise doesn’t just mean working to change Washington (D.C.),” she said in a statement to the Telegraph Herald. “It also means, quite literally, being willing to put my money where my mouth is.”

The Hinsons say they only will invest in widely held mutual funds and exchange-traded funds for their retirement savings.

“My constituents deserve to have full confidence that my efforts in Washington are guided only by what is best for our district,” Hinson said. “There should never be any doubt that I’m here to serve only the people of Iowa.”

Calls for federal investigation into Anamosa prison killings

Last week, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and Democratic Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls and House Minority Leader Todd Prichard sent a letter to the U.S. attorney general and labor secretary requesting a federal investigation into the March 23 killings of nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland at Anamosa State Penitentiary. Authorities have said the two were killed during a failed escape attempt by inmates Michael Dutcher and Thomas Woodard Jr., both of whom are now charged with first-degree murder and other counts.

“This terrible tragedy should never have happened, and we believe, unfortunately, this incident was completely preventable,” the letter states.

A related press release stated, “Last year, the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued numerous warnings and serious violations to (Iowa Department of Corrections) for inadequate communication and prison staffing. One I-OSHA report warned Anamosa employees did not have reliable communication equipment or adequate staff for emergency responses. Instead of fixing the problems identified, the DOC began denying state inspectors access to facilities for fair and independent safety assessments.”

Wahls in the release lambasted Gov. Kim Reynolds’ response to the killings, saying she should have “immediately requested an independent, outside investigation” but has not done so, prompting the letter.

Gulf remains in budget talks in Des Moines

The 2021 session of the Iowa Legislature is conceivably set to end this Friday, April 30, on its 110th day.

But according to area lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, more than the rotunda separates the two chambers under the golden dome.

In her weekly newsletter, Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, pointed to big differences between House of Representatives Republicans’ budget targets and the Senate’s Republican majority.

“The budget process is moving to the next phase, and key differences between the House and Senate is a $5 million Public Safety Equipment Fund in the House while our Senate sits at zero,” she said. “We are also sending a clear message to the other chamber that telehealth expansion is an important component in increasing health care access in Iowa.”

Things look no better from the minority party’s perspective. In fact, Iowa Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said she doubted the Legislature could finalize a budget — its only requirement under the Iowa Constitution — in the coming week.

“The House and Senate leaders and committee chairs aren’t even talking to each other,” she said. “My (Republican) counterparts on my Senate Ways and Means Committee, they’re coming to me saying, ‘They won’t even talk to me.’”

Jochum said early signs of the rift came when some committees built their own budgets without reaching out to their matching committee across the Capitol.

“The committee chairs didn’t do any joint meetings, which we’ve always done in the past,” she said. “So, we have 20 different budget bills instead of 10. It’s polarized here even within one political party.”

Lundgren criticizes local health board

In her newsletter, Lundgren referenced requests by the Dubuque County Board of Health for local lawmakers to encourage constituents to be vaccinated. She noted that she was vaccinated and that she was confident in the vaccines.

But she then rebuked the board for the countywide mask mandate it has had in place since November.

“I also believe that much of the hesitancy comes from the fact that the CDC and our own locally elected officials are still pressuring people (even fully vaccinated ones) to wear masks, socially distance and avoid large crowds,” Lundgren said in the newsletter. “Many of you (readers) have asked me, why they should get the vaccine, if nothing changes. My response to the (Dubuque County Board of Health) is that it is time to shift our focus from the coronavirus to the new (brain health) pandemic that it has sadly invented.”

Calendar

  • 5 p.m. Friday, April 30 — Jackson County Republicans will hold their annual spring fundraiser at Clinton Engine Museum, 1212 E Quarry St., Maquoketa, Iowa. The cost is $15 for adults and $5 for children 10 and younger. Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann will speak. The event will feature a fried chicken dinner and auction.

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