Court upholds dismissal of suit over Iowa governor’s flight
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a Des Moines attorney who challenged a 2017 flight that Gov. Kim Reynolds and her family took on a private jet to a football game in Memphis, Tennessee.
Gary Dickey filed a complaint with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board in September 2018, alleging the $2,880 claimed for four seats on the private jet in campaign disclosure documents underestimated the flight’s value by thousands of dollars. The plane was owned by a company that has contracts with the state. Dave North, the company’s CEO and a major campaign donor of Reynolds, paid for the flight.
The board dismissed his complaint, saying the estimate was reasonable. Dickey appealed and a district court judge in December 2018 dismissed his challenge, saying he lacked standing to sue because he wasn’t injured by the governor’s filing even if it wasn’t accurate.
Dickey claims that Iowa campaign finance laws guarantee citizens accurate information and the court should establish a citizen’s right to challenge reports when they’re false.
All but one of the justices considering the case — three of them Reynolds appointees — upheld the dismissal.
“Courts exist to hear claims brought by injured parties; Dickey is not injured,” the court said.
A spokesman for Reynolds didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Justice Brent Appel, the only remaining Democratic appointee on the court, disagreed with the majority. He wrote that the state law on public disclosure of campaign contributions is broad enough to allow Dickey to pursue the right to force accurate public disclosure of campaign donation amounts.
Dickey said it’s undisputed that Reynolds underreported the jet contribution and the ethics and campaign disclosure board failed to hold her accountable.
“The Legislature needs to allow individuals to seek relief in the courts when the board fails to act or else do away with campaign disclosure requirements altogether,” he said.
Reynolds attended the Liberty Bowl with her husband and adult children to watch Iowa State play Memphis.