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Nate Boulton Drops Out of Governor's Race After Sexual Misconduct Allegations Emerge

nate boulton
John Pemble / IPR file
Iowa Public Radio
Nate Boulton

UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24

Nate Boulton said in a statement Thursday morning he is suspending his campaign for governor. 

"While I depart this campaign for governor with a heavy heart, I remain resolved to the greater cause of creating a future Iowa we all can be proud to call our home," the statement read.  

There are five other Democrats running in the primary.  By Thursday morning, four of them had called for Boulton to drop out of the race, and John Norris said Boulton shouldn't be the Democratic nominee. 

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen Thursday morning called for Boulton to resign from the state Senate. 

"What we have learned in the last 24 hours makes it clear to me that Sen. Boulton should also resign his position in the Iowa Senate," Petersen said in a statement. "If he chooses not to do so, I will support a full, independent investigation into allegations against him."

Original post from Wednesday, May 23:

With less than two weeks to go before the June 5 primary election, Democratic candidate for governor and State Senator Nate Boulton is facing allegations of sexual misconduct that werepublished Wednesday by the Des Moines Register.

Des Moines lawyer Sharon Wegner, a Democrat, told the Register that Boulton grabbed her buttocks at a Des Moines bar in 2015. Jessica Millage, an attorney from the Des Moines area and a Republican, said Boulton rubbed his clothed erect penis against her thigh at social gatherings while the two were Drake University law students. A third woman made a similar claim.

Boulton released a statement apologizing to the women.

“Regardless of the difference in my memory or the context of the situation, it is not my place to disqualify what these women felt at the time or in hindsight,” the statement reads.

Boulton did not deny the allegations when speaking with the Register.

The statement went on to say the women were social peers, and his actions “in no way equate to the disgraceful actions taken by men across the country and in the Iowa Statehouse who have assaulted, harassed and threatened women with workplace consequences.” It also says the situations occurred prior to Boulton holding public office.

Boulton faces five other Democrats in the race to take on Gov. Kim Reynolds in the fall. He told the Register he does not anticipate making changes in his campaign.

Fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cathy Glasson released a statement calling the reports “disturbing.”

“Nate Boulton’s behavior disqualifies him from leading our state government,” Glasson said.

The other Democratic candidates released statements saying sexual harassment is unacceptable.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, who previously endorsed Boulton for governor, released a statement saying sexual harassment and misconduct should not be tolerated.

“The allegations reported in the Des Moines Register are a serious matter for Senator Boulton,” Petersen said.

The Republican Party of Iowa called on Boulton to step down as a candidate and as state senator.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter