A Republican county chairman in Iowa wants to punish presidential candidates who decided to opt out of next weekend's GOP straw poll in Ames. Hardin County chair Andy Cable won't invite these candidates' representatives to political meetings in his county, denying them valuable opportunities to recruit activists.
That's within his purview. The Ames event raises lots of money for the state party. And Hardin County is in Ames's back yard. As county chair, Cable must tend to the interests of his constituents.
But Cable has a potential conflict of interest. He is also a paid organizer for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
On June 11, Mr. Cable sent an e-mail to representatives of former candidate Jim Gilmore, Sen. John McCain and ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. McCain and Giuliani announced that month that they would not spend millions to try and win the Ames Straw Poll on Aug. 11.
"As Chairman of the Hardin County Iowa Republicans I would like to have my name removed from any of your mailing lists," Cable writes. "Since you have chosen to sidestep an important part of the state Republican caucus process and thus show non support of loyal Iowan caucus goers I wish to ask you to have my name removed from your mailing lists and to inform you that your candidate and any representatives will not be invited to any Hardin County Central Committee meetings or local Republican functions. These are open only to those candidates that respect our system."
A copy of Cable's e-mail was obtained from an Iowa Republican.
Mr. Cable has publicly endorsed Romney and is among those Republicans Romney's campaign has paid $3,000 for "GOTV Consulting."
Tim Albrecht, a Romney spokesman, said that the decision "was made solely by the members on the Hardin County Republican Central Committee’s Executive Board. At no time did they solicit input from our campaign. this is strictly a local, internal matter in one of Iowa’s 99 counties."
Cable, in an e-mail to this column, said he is offended at the suggestion of conspiracy and insists that those who question the motivations of county's executive committee are trying to make a hornest's nest out of a hay pile.
"I am very proud to say we have hosted 9 candidates in the last year for numerous events in Hardin County. They have have all gotten a fair shake and a lot of support from the Hardin County Republican Central Committee. Of the three campaigns that chose to not support the Iowa Straw Poll only the McCain organization had ever even attended a Central Committee meeting or requested to be contacted about any events we would be holding- they never asked and therefore were never refused our help. The only subsequent request for help to me was sent from the Guliani campaign to send to my county mailing list the info on a Guliani event 45 miles from my county, which I originally refused on the grounds they were not supporting the Iowa Straw Poll and our Executive Committee had voted to not offer support to ANY candidate that did not support us locally."
Cable said he subsequently discussed the issue with Tony Delgado, an advisor to Giuliani.
He continues: "As to your question about conflict of interest- I see none. There are no rules that a County Chair can not support the candidate of their choice- nor that they can not be compensated for the work they do. I can give names of other County Chairs on the payroll for Tom Tancredo, John Cox to name a couple. I have been a political consultant for several years and the Campaign Manager for three elections for a State Representative. Everyone in my county knows this."
Cable said that the decision to bar the non-Ames candidates was made by the county party's executive committee and denied that his affiliation with Romney influenced their votes.
"I think whoever has sent you this "story" is making a mountain out of a mole hill and trying to create a conflict that does not exist -- my suggestion to them is pay attention to the Iowa voters- make friends not enemies of the local Central Committees and if they are serious about the caucuses then get out and meet the rural voters as all the other candidates have and take
Iowans seriously instead of pointing fingers at those candidates that have done the ground work and the Iowans who have already chosen who they support."
Here's Cable's original e-mail to the campaigns in its entirety:
From: Andy [mailto:XXXX@starband.net]
As Chairman of the Hardin County Iowa Republicans I would like to have my name removed from any of your mailing lists.
Local county GOP organizations in Iowa are an integral part of the Rep. Party of Iowa and depend on their staff and guidance in order to run the statewide Caucuses in January.
For years the Straw Poll in August has been a big part of our fundraising to support these caucuses. The ability for a candidate to be available to 30K or more Iowa activists and be compared to others on the same day is a huge influence on the decision making for those that attend the January event. Iowans votes can not be bought and even an open tent with the literature, volunteers and the candidate available is important- the stage time the candidate gets in front of these activists is even more valuable.
Since you have chosen to sidestep an important part of the state Republican caucus process and thus show non support of loyal Iowan caucus goers I wish to ask you to have my name removed from your mailing lists and to inform you that your candidate and any representatives will not be invited to any Hardin County Central Committee meetings or local Republican functions. These are open only to those candidates that respect our system.
Hardin County Republican Chairman