Blogger: Reynolds Missed Deadline for Appointing Judge

Sep 14, 2018

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office is defending a recent judicial appointment, after a Democratic blogger claimed the governor missed the deadline for selecting a new district judge.

According to Bleeding Heartland, there is no written confirmation that Reynolds selected Jason Besler for the 6th district judgeship by 30 days after his name was submitted to her.

According to the Iowa Constitution, if the deadline is missed, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court makes the selection instead.

The district judicial nomination commission submitted Besler’s name and the name of the other potential appointee Ellen Ramsey-Kacena to Reynolds on May 22nd.    The 30-day deadline expired on June 21st.  

According to the blog, Besler was not notified of his appointment and a press release announcing it did not occur until June 25th.  

The governor’s office is disputing the report.

“The appointment was made within the deadline, and our office was in communication with the court about the process,” Reynolds spokeswoman Brenna Smith said in a statement.

The blog includes an e-mail from Reynolds Chief of Staff Ryan Koopmans to Molly Kottmeyer, counsel to Chief Justice Mark Cady.   In it he states that Reynolds made a “verbal” appointment by the deadline. 

According to the blog, Kottmeyer wrote in an e-mail to Koopmans that appointments should be “in writing.”

“Iowa Code section 69.10 provides appointments “shall be in writing” and “filed” in the Office of the Secretary of State,”  Molly Kottmeyer wrote.  “We trust that the appointment was made within thirty days as required by the constitution, and the date the appointee was notified would have no legal significance.”

In an apparent departure from tradition, the letter sent to Besler was undated.

Besler, an assistant Linn County prosecutor, is a Republican activist with a background of strong opposition to abortion.   Letters submitted in his support came from Faith and Freedom Coalition President Steve Scheffler and former Iowa Right to Life CEO Jennifer Bowen.