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Panel to decide Friday if Bisignano can run for legislature

 
Panel to decide Friday if Bisignano can run for legislature
Posted March 19th, 2014 @ 6:51pm

Does the Iowa Constitution's ban on voting rights and holding public office for anyone convicted of an "infamous crime" apply to drunk driving convictions?

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz says at the time the constitution was written, there were no drunk drivers "only drunk riders, maybe." He, State Auditor Mary Mosiman and Attorney General Tom Miller are the panel to weigh in on a complaint that says Democrat Tony Bisignano's unfit for office.

That was filed by Ned Chiodo, who will be Bisignano's primary opponent in June if Bigisnano's name is allowed to stay on the ballot. Chiodo's attorney Gary Dickey says the constitution's ban on infamous crimes, along with two Iowa Supreme Court rulings that define "infamous crimes" to be offenses that would require jail time are both clear that Bisignano shouldn't be on the ballot. 

Former state legislator-and lobbyist-Tom Jochum testified on Bisignano's behalf, saying the complaint was "a political one, not a legal one" and "should be decided by the voters."

The panel took nearly two hours of at times very technical testimony from the two sides. Included in that testimony was Jochum's assertion that if Bisignano is kept off the ballot, courts could then rule that "tens of thousands" of Iowas convicted of 2nd offense OWI could have their voting rights taken away. 

Panel members agreed to defer their decisions until a Friday morning meeting, giving them time to pore over all the legal issues and statements in the case.  

Regardless of their decision, Secretary of State Matt Schultz says he expects a court appeal.

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