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Leadership Shakeup in Iowa Senate, Fallout from Dix Resignation

Joyce Russell/IPR
Sen. Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny)

Republicans in the Iowa Senate Wednesday chose Sen. Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) as their new Majority Leader, the most powerful position in the Senate.  

Whitver succeeds Sen. Bill Dix, who resigned abruptly this week after compromising photos of him with a statehouse lobbyist appeared on the internet.   

The 28-member GOP caucus chose Whitver, an eight-year veteran of the Iowa Senate, by secret ballot in a closed door meeting two days after Dix resigned.

It's a new day. -Sen. Maj. Leader Jack Whitver

“We don’t know the tally of the vote,” Whitver said, speaking to reporters after his selection was completed.   “We just know who won and that's what helped keep our caucus united.”

Whitver said in the remaining weeks of the session, the Senate will continue its effort to cut taxes and balance the state budget.

Whitver promised continuity in spite of the “distraction” of the Dix affair. 

“We’re going to continue to do the same work and the same agenda that we have had over the last year and a half,” Whitver said.

Credit Joyce Russell/IPR
Sen. Pres. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines)

When asked if there’s repair work needed with the public after the Dix scandal, Whitver said it’s a “new day.”    

Sen. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines) will assume the post of Senate president, who presides over Senate proceedings. Whitver had been serving as Senate president. 

The new leaders inherit a chamber rocked by a sexual harassment judgment last year.  A court awarded former Senate GOP staffer Kirsten Anderson $1.75 million after a jury believed her description of a toxic, sexually-charged work environment.

Sen. Schneider says he will address the issue of sexual harassment immediately.

“One of the first things I plan to do is sit down with the Human Resources Director that we have and get an update on the status and make sure we complete any work that remains to be done,” Schneider said.

Sens. Whitver and Schneider have an obligation to finally get it right. -Sen. Janet Petersen

Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines), said the new leaders should take responsibility for the Kirsten Anderson case.   

“Iowa taxpayers’ dollars should have never been used as a slush fund to cover the cost of sexual harassment by Senate Republicans,” Petersen said in a statement.  “Senators Whitver and Schneider should turn over all campaign funds raised by Senator Dix to begin to cover the costs of the illegal behavior by their caucus.”

“I'm hoping that this new leadership will pay close attention  to the rest of the Republican caucus and make sure the rules are followed  in regard to no harassment,” added Sen. Liz Mathis (R-Robins), “and that we can get out of here rather quickly and we have professional conduct all along the way.”

Sen. Whitver will make a phenomenal leader. -Majority Whip Amy Sinclair

The lone woman among the 28 Senate Republicans, Sen. Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton), becomes Majority Whip.    

“Senator Whitver will make a phenomenal leader,” Sinclair said.