DES MOINES — The campaign of Republican congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks is not seeking an apology or retraction from an Iowa anti-abortion advocacy group after the organization
distributed a newsletter questioning Miller-Meeks’ anti-abortion credentials.
A group of Muscatine County Republicans called for Iowa Right to Life Coalition Executive Director Kim Lehman to either apologize to Miller-Meeks or step down from her position as a member of the state’s Republican central committee.
A newsletter from the Iowa Right to Life Coalition said Miller-Meeks is for abortion rights and called the candidate a “pretender” trying to pass herself off as anti-abortion to win votes.
Miller-Meeks, a physician seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, is anti-abortion and condones abortion only in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger, said Miller-Meeks’ communications director Eric Woolson.
But Woolson said Miller-Meeks isn’t worried about the newsletter.
“Her focus is on David Loebsack and making sure we defeat him on Nov. 4,” he said.
The letter from the Muscatine County Republicans was signed by U.S. Sen. Jim Hahn of Muscatine and Rep. Jeff Kaufmann of Wilton, along with other county GOP officials.
It was addressed to the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee.
The letter charges that Lehman’s role at the Iowa Right to Life Coalition conflicts with her job as an Iowa representative on the party’s national committee.
“She is actively working against our Republican candidates,” the letter says.
Lehman said her work on the Iowa Right to Life Coalition doesn’t pose a conflict of interest.
She said the anti-abortion plank makes up an important part of the Republican Party’s platform, and she said it’s her job as national committeewoman to uphold basic Republican principles.
She said she didn’t write the newsletter, but those who did based the piece on news accounts and interviews they’d seen that raised doubts as to Miller-Meeks’ stance on life issues like abortion and euthanasia.
Lehman also said Miller-Meeks has refused to fill out and return a National Right to Life survey that asks questions about abortion, stem-cell research and other life issues.
She said all the other Iowa Republicans running for congressional spots filled out the survey.
Lehman said her organization would retract the comments in the newsletter if Miller-Meeks filled out the survey and proved that she is anti-abortion.
“We’d like to be able to do a retraction if that’s possible,” she said. “We’re not out to get candidates. We’re just trying to defend the pro-life position.”
Woolson said he was unaware if Miller-Meeks had received the National Right to Life survey.
Kaufmann said the timing of the newsletter just weeks ahead of the Nov. 4 general election makes matters worse. He said the newsletter mischaracterizes Miller-Meeks’ views on important issues, and he questioned Lehman’s ability to carry out her jobs on the Iowa Right to Life Coalition and the Republican Party of Iowa at the same time.
“I have a problem with Kim (Lehman) wearing two hats and not wearing them very well,” he said.
Fred Love can be contacted at (515) 243-0138 or email@example.com.