Gov. Kim Reynolds this past week added a new wing to her glass McMansion.
Reynolds sits atop an increasingly secretive administration, one that quashes the release of information, ducks the media and provides cover for political allies. And yet, the obvious hypocrisy didn't stop her from slinging boulders at her Democratic opponent, Fred Hubbell, for an alleged lack of transparency. Reynolds' campaign slammed Hubbell for not yet releasing his tax returns, after Reynolds disclosed a decade-worth of filings.
OK. The criticism of Hubbell is fair enough. Iowans deserve to know Hubbell's annual effective tax rate and potential conflicts of interest before considering Hubbell for the state's chief executive.
But Reynolds' complete lack of any sense of irony was downright laughable. The stench of hypocrisy was even more pronounced since it was in the same week when the Reynolds' administration's campaign against any legitimate scrutiny of Iowa's failing Medicaid program was again laid bare.
Reynolds' administration is, by every objective measure, an incredibly secretive one, and it's growing increasingly worse.
Take the case of David Hudson, who in an interview published Monday by the Des Moines Register, detailed his ouster from Iowa's Medical Assistance Advisory Council, which, in part, oversees the state's now privatized $5 billion Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.
Hudson's crime? As he tells it, he simply asked too many questions.
"I guess I pushed back too hard or something,” he said.
Hudson is no squishy liberal. He was a longtime supporter of Reynolds' mentor, former Gov. Terry Branstad. He backed Branstad's privatization effort, even as federal officials pleaded with the state to slow down. And he was co-chairman of one of the few safeguards overseeing a transition that, over and over, sees Iowa's most vulnerable populations denied treatment due to corporate greed.
Hudson did his job. And, for that, Reynolds showed him the door, turned off the lights and acted like the whole thing never happened.
Iowa's Medicaid privatization isn't going well. Reynolds herself admitted in January mistakes were made in her first speech as governor. And yet, she's lashed this anchor around her waist and refused to seriously address it.
Reynolds lambasted calls for a state audit of Medicaid's alleged savings as nothing but Democrats trying to score political points. Thing is, there wouldn't be any points to score if the state was straight with its citizens. Instead, Iowa and its governor have bent over backward to muddy the waters and offer, without proof, information that, at best, merits skepticism.
Last time we checked, taxpayers have a right to know how their money's spent.
Hudson's ouster is just another link in a chain of secrecy, hammered together by an administration intent on dominating the narrative at all cost. Facts be damned.
Late last month, another longtime regulator, Mark Bowden of the Iowa Board of Medicine, abruptly retired after telling colleagues he expected to be fired. The Reynolds administration doesn't want talk about that, either.
Reynolds cloaked in secrecy the firing of former Iowa Finance Authority Director David Jamison, who she canned after evidence of Jamison's unchecked sexual harassment landed on her desk. Reynolds claimed she was attempting to protect the victims when she refused to release the details.
Bogus. Reynolds' goal was ducking public scrutiny, plain and simple, the administration's default setting.
Weekly media conferences are a thing of the past. Pesky reporters might undermine Reynolds' attempts at damage control. State officials who ask too many questions are sacked or driven from office. And anything that counters Reynolds' narrative that everything is just swell in Iowa is hidden from the public under lock and key, even as vital programs burn.
Yeah, Fred Hubbell has a transparency problem. But Kim Reynolds treats fact and openness as the enemy.
Local editorials represent the opinion of the Quad-City Times editorial board, which consists of Publisher Deb Anselm, Executive Editor Matt Christensen, Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander and community representative John Wetzel.