With Part 1 of this story covering the entire forum minus the last five minutes, lets dig right into the controversy that marked the conclusion of Mondayâ€™s forum and went on to engulf the local media in the following days.
What Was Said
For those who have not heard or read it yet, here is the transcript of the most controversial remarks from Sheriff McCarthyâ€™s closing statement:
â€œâ€¦Then the other day I opened his website and heâ€™s got a reference on there to the Oath Keepers.Â The Oath Keepers!Â Itâ€™s a group that affiliated with this (holds up book), but they areÂ the big boys.Â Â These are people on a Patriots list from the National Poverty Law Center, a watch list for extreme radicalism.Â (Timothy) McVeigh died going to his grave saying that he was that kind of patriot.Â This guy that runs the Oath Keepers movement, who says heâ€™s a Constitutionalist, has now come out on his website and said itâ€™s time to arm because we think Obama might win.Â Itâ€™s time to arm, and itâ€™s also time to store food for the war thatâ€™s coming (crowd starts booing).Â This is the kind of garbage youâ€™re going to get if he (points to Charleston) is elected.Â Itâ€™s really about as radical as it gets.â€
Though utterly indefensible and unjustified, there are two factors that should at least be understood when thinking about McCarthyâ€™s attitude and conduct on this night.
I believe it fair to realize that for the last year or so Sheriff McCarthy has been listening to and watching Dan Charleston run for his job by basically saying that his department is a poorly run outfit plagued by low morale that needs whole-sale changes to better serve and protect the people of Polk County.Â I am not for a moment saying that these things are untrue, but I am saying that very few of us, if any, have experienced this situationâ€”and clearly it would be extremely tough and frustrating.Â To continually hear on the radio strong criticism that you are failing in a job you are personally invested in and passionate about is no small thing, and certainly would wear on anybody.Â Secondly, and unknown to me until after the fact, apparently Sheriff McCarthyâ€™s own brother was killed in the Oklahoma City Bombing carried out by Timothy McVeigh.
The Bottom Line
The above information is presented solely to give some context to an allegation and line of logic that is nothing short of disgraceful and bizarreâ€”there is just no getting around that.Â While the whole closing statement was overboard, the last sentence elevated the charge to a different level.
Itâ€™s one thing to raise questions about a quote on Dan Charlestonâ€™s website from some group who you view to be extremist in order to cast doubt about where your opponent is coming fromâ€”some may even define this as â€œhard ballâ€ politics (I would use the word â€œdirtyâ€).Â It is yet another step-up to imply that all this groupsâ€™ beliefs and actions can be attributed to Charleston.Â Rather unfortunately Sheriff McCarthy didnâ€™t even stop here.
Though it was hard to hear in the auditorium at the time due to the crowds audible gasp and objections, the last sentence that McCarthy uttered that night was, â€œAnd this is the kind of garbage you are going to get if he is elected, itâ€™s really about asÂ radical as you can get.â€Â Beyond being baseless, irrational, and recklessâ€”this is legal slander that demands, in the least, a public apology.
Impact On This Race
In my view this stands as the second most bizarre episode in Iowa politics this yearâ€”bested only by Republican Senate candidate Randi Shannonâ€™s break from realityâ€”and will certainly hurt his chances in the November election.Â Besides being a huge public relations misstep, McCarthyâ€™s conduct and slander was a head-scratcher politically, as it runs counter to the broader-themed case he has been making against Charleston from the beginning.
Besides saying that Charleston is wrong on the issues, McCarthyâ€™s general assertion to voters is that he is more professional and well-mannered while Charlestonâ€™s temperament and straight-talking boldness are the wrong traits to have heading the Sheriffâ€™s Department.Â It is beyond ironic that the man making this case, even saying himself during the forum that you canâ€™t â€œbare your soul on every social issueâ€, would himself make a reckless and bizarre allegation by publically â€œbaringâ€ his own outlandish and paranoid beliefs about Dan Charleston.Â It is truly as unbelievable and nonsensical as it is hypocritical.
The fact that these two candidates have opposite beliefs on nearly every issue already presented a clear choice for the citizens of Polk County.Â Â Sheriff McCarthyâ€™s outlandish display in the waning moments of Mondayâ€™s forum have made this pictureâ€™s contrast even sharperâ€¦and made the prospect of him keeping his job far less likely.
Much of the story from Monday nightâ€™s forum between current Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy and Sheriff Candidate Dan Charleston occurred in the final minutes where, by any reasonable standard, Bill McCarthy crossed the line from aggressively campaigning to keep his jobâ€”to down-right personal slander.Â We will get to that in due time, but first here is a quick re-cap of the event and the many defining differences between these two men that are at the core of this simmering race.
The forum was held in the North High School auditorium, where a large crowd left only the back few rows of seats empty, and was put on by a consortium of neighborhood groups called the â€œDes Moines Neighborsâ€.Â The forum was very well run and to say interest in this Sheriffs race around Polk County is high would be an understatementâ€”I have attended several high-profile legislative forums and debates which had a fraction of the crowd that Mondayâ€™s event had.
The mood of the audience and the two candidates onstage throughout the evening could be best described as â€œtenseâ€â€”before exploding in the final minutes during Sheriff McCarthyâ€™s closing statement.Â While Dan Charleston kept his tone firm and relatively respectful, Bill McCarthy was repeatedly and openly condescending, dismissive, and at times insulting.Â While obviously there is no love lost between the two, McCarthyâ€™s conduct and attitude from the beginning stood out as being unprofessional and wholly unnecessary.Â Now that the scene is set and you have an idea of the atmosphereâ€”letâ€™s move onto the substance.
These two candidates see eye-to eye on very little, and the disagreements fit into two clear categoriesâ€”1) internal department policy, and 2) what essentially amounts to political issues.
The internal department issues at hand concern promotion practices, the size and distribution of the force, and the additional $5 charge that Sheriff McCarthy has added on to the cost of receiving gun permits.Â Since these issues are mainly known only to department employees and their friends and family we will not cover them in detail.Â A brief summation is that Dan Charleston strongly believes the department is too top-heavy, that the promotion policy is being dealt with unfairly, and that the additional charge on gun permits should be removed.Â In terms of the departmentâ€™s staff allocation, Charleston has made it clear he would remove several supervisory positions and replace them with more patrols and more â€œboots on the groundâ€.Â Obviously, since he is in charge of the department currently, McCarthy largely supports these things as they are.
The Political Issues
Lacking theÂ time to reasonably go into each in detail, what follows is a surface level look–largely in their own word–at the top three hot-button issues the two candidates sparredÂ over on this evening.
1) Illegal Immigration
Sheriff McCarthy â€“ After being coy by saying he would â€œlike to see some changesâ€ in this area, though failing to mention any, he summarized his position by saying, â€œLocal law enforcement, despite the lies you hear on the radio month after month, are not empowered to arrest people who are undocumentedâ€”or what you would call â€œillegalâ€.â€Â He then went on to make the case that if illegal aliens are arrested we would only â€œfill our jailsâ€.
Dan Charlestonâ€”Clearly Charleston would be tougher on enforcement and he referenced the oath he took both in the military and in the Sheriffâ€™s Department to â€œprotect and serveâ€.Â He went on to say, â€œWhen the coyotes bring these guys over here in two days for $1,500 it doesnâ€™t mean we turn a blind eye to it and let everything they want to do with the cartels and the gangs we have right here in Des Moines just happen.Â It means you have a duty to protect and serve the citizens you were elected by.â€
2)Â Traffic Cameras
Sheriff McCarthyâ€”Supports both the concept and the expansion of Automated Traffic Enforcement, and made the point that it costs the department nothing up front for the companies to come in and set the systems up.Â He called the Constitutional arguments against them misleading and summarized his position by saying, â€œI want to give these (the cameras) a shot, and I hope they save some lives.â€
Dan Charlestonâ€”Strongly opposes the concept and practice mainly on 6th Amendment â€œface your accuserâ€ grounds, and also for the fact he believes it is a ploy to generate more revenue.Â He concluded his answer with, â€œIf it was a safety issue why do they let you go 11 mph over the speed limit?…Iâ€™m sure people would rather have a patrolman out there than a camera taking pictures of them.â€
3)Â Stand Your Ground
Sheriff McCarthyâ€”Does not support the legislation largely because it takes discretion away from the officers and gives it to the County Attorney.Â He then added, â€œItâ€™s not good legislation, on the surface it looks goodâ€¦but letâ€™s not give people a free hand to be violent and mean-spirited to others.â€
Dan Charleston–Â When asked,Â “Would you support Stand Your Ground legislation?”, Charleston simply answered, “Yes I would.”
*****To read more from Dan Charleston checkout his “3 Questions with The Conservative Reader:Iowa” from earlier this year*****
While much of the attention and focus when we head out to vote in November will be on the various partisan political races on the ballot, residents of Polk County will have another very important decision to make–who will be guiding the law enforcement efforts that protect us.
Though it may surprise many, the reason this is important is that some very basic laws on the books are being relegated to the back burner by current Sheriff Bill McCarthy–who has instead decided that the crack down we need is on those breaking the speed limit.Â While manyÂ living in the suburbs are unaware, not all places in Polk County are as safe as the neighborhoods most of us live in.Â The emphasis and aggressiveness in enforcing current law is vitalÂ to improving our safety, protecting our rights,Â and stamping out problems before they become out of control and directly threatening.
Opposing Sheriff McCarthy this November is Dan Charleston.Â I would encourage all of you to take a minute and visit his website – Charlestonforsheriff.com – where he goes into detail on the many hot-button issues that are on the table and how he would approach his law enforcement duties in general.
He was kind enough recently to answer some questions forÂ The Conservative Reader: Iowa–mainlyÂ focusing onÂ the impact a new Polk County Sheriff could have if he is elected in November.Â Here is what he had to say:
Should you defeat Bill McCarthy in November, what are the top three things that the citizens of Polk County would notice a change in?
Honoring the Oath of Office and ensuring the protection of individual rights as laid out in the USÂ Constitution and Bill of Rights, will be the first priority when elected Sheriff.Â We will lead together with innovative ideas and solutions to better serve our community.Â This will restore faith, hope, and the belief that there is a better future for our families and our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Polk County Sheriffâ€™s annual budget is over sixty million dollars. The 2011-2012 budgets will bring a mandatory cut of more than 2.5million dollars.Â There are many ways to accomplish this:Â retirements, reallocation of top management positions to line staff, inmate food service, fewer take-home cars for positions which do not require one, alternative work schedules, and management to staff ratios brought within the national average.Â This does not require the loss of staff jobs or a consulting firmâ€™s opinion at taxpayersâ€™ expense.
Recently the Sheriff and board of supervisors voted to allow speed cameras placed in vehicles throughout Polk County.Â I believe this is unconstitutional based on the sixth amendment. I would not allow the use of speed/red light cameras in Polk County and would lead the effort in getting them removed throughout the entire county.
What would your top priorities be on day one, and how would you best describe your managerial and law enforcement philosophy?
I believe the top priority at the Polk County Sheriffâ€™s Office is to restore the morale of the staff.Â There is a lack of faith in the leadership which affects the work ethic and overall attitude of the employees.
I believe in maintaining service before self; doing more with less; providing fiscal transparency, common sense solutions, honesty, accountability, trustworthiness, respect, loyalty, and fairness. I also believe in community and an attitude of service shown to the people whom we serve as law enforcement professionals in Polk County.
I believe a law enforcement organization cannot expect to grow and prosper if the skills of its people do not consistently do so. I believe in leading by example through realistic training, innovative ideas, on-going law enforcement education and common sense solutions when issues arise.
I believe that when we promote great leaders, it affects the work ethic, self- worth and pride of our organization, which will then be apparent to the people we serve.Â I believe Integrity is the most important thing a man or organization can possess, and with it, pride and a humble spirit is shown.
How has the campaign been going?Â Was there one event or occurrence that drove you to run for this office? Name one impact that a high quality County Sheriff can have on a community that might surprise some people?
The campaign has been going outstanding.Â The volunteers, radio, TV, webcasts, house parties, public speaking and parades have been very rewarding and informative.
Having been in the military and worked for Los Angeles Sheriffâ€™s Department, I have been a part of first class organizations. Having this experience gives me better vision to see where Polk County needs improvement in its law enforcement practices.Â Through proactive law enforcement, we can reduce gang activity, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and unconstitutional speed cameras and lead the way for constitutional carry in this great state of Iowa.
With the primary and caucus season officially over, the time for Iowa Republicans to come together has now arrived.Â For Republicans in Ankeny and the surrounding areas, literally getting together will be on the menu Saturday May 26th at the Ankeny Band Shell in Wagner Parkâ€”along with some world-class barbeque.
The event is the first annual â€œSenator Whitver Memorial Day Weekend Picnic,â€ and it will feature some great guests.Â Among those speaking will be Governor Terry Branstad, Congressman Tom Latham, and Secretary of State Matt Schultz.
For Senator Whitver the idea of having a picnic was the perfect way to bridge two good causes, â€œThere is such a feeling of community in Ankeny and I wanted to start an event that can be an annual tradition.Â Being a young father myself, it is important to me that this is a family friendly event.Â This will be a great chance for kids to meet and speak with their elected officials, including the Governor, and a great opportunity to teach them the importance of being involved.â€Â The other good cause is that all funds raised will go to support Senate Republicans this November.Â To this point Senator Whitver added, â€œThis is also an event that will help Republican candidates all over the state and help us take the majority in the Iowa Senate next fall.â€
Besides hearing from the featured guests, Ankeny residents will have the chance to meet the candidates running to represent them in the Iowa House, as well as Polk County Sheriff candidate Dan Charleston.Â Â Â There will be plenty ofÂ food and entertainment throughout, asÂ all attendees will be treated to live music and the cooking of renowned Iowa barbeque chef Lee Booton.
Against the family picnic backdrop, political enthusiasts will have plenty to keep an eye on as well.Â This will be one of Governor Branstadâ€™s first public appearances following the adjourning of the Iowa Legislature, and many will likely be hearing from Congressman Latham for the first time sinceÂ launching his campaign in a very high profile showdown with Representative Leonard Boswell.Â Returning to Ankeny after speaking at the Polk County Convention in March, Mr. Latham sounds ready to meet and speak with voters in a far more casual setting.Â When asked for his thoughts on this upcoming Republican get together he responded, “I am looking forward to this great event and an afternoon of seeing old friends and making new ones.”
In the big picture, the influence that Iowa has in the primary process will be fully re-lived this November.Â As an unquestioned swing state in the presidential election and home to two of the most important Congressional races in the Country, what happens here will undoubtedly re-shape American politics for the next several years.
All those interested in shaping what will become an Ankeny tradition for several years to come should take a look at the flyer below and make plans to attend on Saturday, May 26th.Â If you are sure to attend, please RSVP to [email protected].Â Tickets will also be available for purchase the day of the event.
Last night’s Polk County Central Committee meeting was a harbinger forÂ both good and bad things to come for the future of Republicans in Polk County.
Among the several speakers to address the committee were Polk County Sheriff candidate Dan Charleston and Senator Rick BertrandÂ (pictured at right).Â Charleston has been very active in his attempt to unseat his boss Bill McCarthy, who has once again doubled down on his support for spreading controversial traffic cameras throughout Iowa.Â His bid to remove McCarthy will not be easy, however, this is an outcome that becomes more possible with McCarthy supporting a hot-button policy that the majority of Iowans reject.Â While Conservatives throughout Polk County will be rightly focused on state and Congressional seats in the coming months, it would be a mistake to ignore this race for sheriff.Â It can be easily argued that the performance and priorities of law enforcement has an equal impact on citizens at the County level as legislative seats.Â All Conservatives who are unaware of this race would be well advised to visit Dan Charleston’s website, were he lays out his positions on several issues (including traffic cameras and illegal immigration).Â It is safe to say he would bring a far different mindset to the job–and there is much to like.
While Senator Rick Bertrand was not on the agenda to speak, all in attendance were glad he made the trip.Â Speaking for nearlyÂ 20 minutes, he got fired up covering topics ranging from his background, his victory in a legal slander case against Iowa Democrats, and the future agenda of Senate Republicans.
Beyond being a gifted and enthusiastic speaker, the real positive to take away from his presence in the Iowa Senate is his potential to bridge the divides that have recently been created by the emergence of a more Libertarian brand of Republican in the party.Â I have asked him personally about the prospects of real legislative results from the Conservative movement in the Iowa Legislature–and I assure you he has a plan and will be front and center in achieving it.Â In my view, he is one of a handful of current Republican legislators who can effortlessly bridge the gap between the old and new guards in the Republican Party.Â In the coming months The Conservative Reader:Iowa will be laying out exactly what this 7 issue action plan is, and will be looking at each in detail.
Having been in attendance at the last two Central Committee meetings, there is little doubt left that the drama surrounding last month’s meeting is not going away.Â The divide between Chairman McLaughlin (along withÂ other members ofÂ the leadership), and co-chair Dave Funk isÂ quickly approaching critical mass.Â Several times during the meeting there was open bickering and contention between the two.Â This was taking place not in the side or back during down time, butÂ actually during the meeting and at the front of the room.
As of this time I am not taking sides.Â FarÂ more important than taking sides is finding some way for this strained situation to be resolved.Â Besides risking several political objects that are certainly within reach, this feud is simply embarrassing for all of the new folks who have been energized during the caucus and have made the time consuming decision to get involved.Â At this rate the attendance of these meetings will swell only on the grounds of voyeurism, as people will start coming to view a live version of the Jerry Springer Show.Â Finding a way to make these meetings a little less bland would be a more than worthy endeavor, however, this is not exactly what I had in mind.
I will be in attendance at the next meeting, if it is plagued by these same issues than the report you read here following it will be of a far different tone.Â At that point critical mass will have unquestionably been reached and a movement to action will have to be initiated.Â With so much crucial work to be done in the coming months, continuing in this manner is simply not an option.