Gov. Reynolds Distances Herself from GOP Activists Tied to Saudi Lobbying Campaign

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Connie Schmett posing with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, and former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. Photo: Facebook via 28pages.org

Gov. Kim Reynolds has removed GOP activists and executive branch employees Kim and Connie Schmett as volunteer Polk County co-chairs of her gubernatorial re-election campaign and donated a $100 the couple made to Tunnel to Towers, a 9/11 victims’ charity, according to the Associated Press. (Update: The AP reports that Tunnel to Towers has declined the donation, saying it is “probably the last foundation on the face of this earth that would take money from a foreign agent for Saudi Arabia.”)

The Schmetts failed to disclose consulting work they conducted on behalf of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in which they recruited unsuspecting veterans to lobby against a law that has allowed for an ongoing lawsuit filed by victims of the 9/11 attacks against the kingdom for its alleged support for the hijackers to proceed. The couple claimed that the law endangered service members overseas. They received $101,500 from the Saudi-funded campaign. Their activities were initially reported by the website 28Pages.org, whose tagline is “Spotlighting false pretenses, hypocrisy and misconduct in the war on terror.”

Reynolds has also requested that the state’s Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board review the Schmetts’ lobbying activities to see if they broke any laws. If they did, Kim Schmett could face removal from his position as chair of the state’s Employment Appeal Board and Connie Schmett from the Health Facilities Council. However, the ethics board’s director, Megan Tooker, told the AP that asking the couple to amend their disclosure filing may be the more likely outcome of the review.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.