Thursday, March 17, 2011

Branstad Friend, Richard Schwarm, Forms Group

A Little Help: Richard Schwarm has known Iowa Governor Terry Branstad a long time. They used to be law partners. Schwarm used to be Republican Party of Iowa Chairman. Schwarm just formed a new group called the Iowans for Growth and Development. But first, a little Joe Cocker...

(Joe Cocker has nothing to do with this, by the way. The song just came to mind).

I asked Schwarm whether his new group's purpose is to push his friend's agenda of cutting taxes (well, mostly, except for raising taxes on casinos), revamping the Iowa Department of Economic Development and creating 200,000 jobs in the next 5 years. Schwarm acknowledged, "We have known each other a long time...and Terry and I share values." He stopped short of saying, yes, this is a group to push TB's ideas. In the group's articles of incorporation paperwork with the Iowa Secretary of State, here's how Schwarm describes the objectives:

"(1) developing and advocating for legislation, regulations, and government programs to improve and stimulate the economy and (2) conducting research and publicizing the positions of elected officials concerning these issues, thereby bringing about civic betterments and social improvements for the common good and general welfare of the people of Iowa."

Schwarm said we can expect to hear radio commercials pushing his group's ideas. He joked radio is cheaper than tv. He couldn't say when ads would start airing, although he did say fundraising is underway. It's "very early" became his response to several of my questions. He said it's "very early" when I asked whether the group will push for Branstad's casino tax increase (I haven't heard much support at the Iowa Statehouse for hiking casino taxes). So no answer on that yet.

Who pays for this group? We will likely never know. Schwarm has organized this group as one of those 501(c)(4) corporations. That means it isn't for profit but it also isn't for public knowledge about which people write the checks. That seems to be the way groups are doing things these days. Our two analysts this weekend on Channel 13's "The Insiders" didn't sound too thrilled with these types of groups. You can hear what they think Sunday on Channel at 9:30am.

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