Iowa (R) Sen. Joni Ernst wrote a letter Tuesday to Director Russell Vought with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget asking that investigation be conducted into how federal tax dollars are used by local officials with autonomous zones.
“In recent weeks, mobs hijacked peaceful protest and vandalized cities and state and local officials enable and encouraged them,” Ernst wrote. “One egregious product of this encouragement of chaos are so-called 'autonomous zones.'”
Ernst refers to the space in Seattle known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone which is a self-declared autonomous zone and occupation protests. According to the New York Times' interview with Timothy Miller, a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas, autonomous zones are a place where culture can live outside of the state's control.
Ernst's “Ending Taxpayer Funding of Anarchy Act” would restrict federal financial assistance in “anarchist jurisdictions,” which the bill defines as city or local governments that abdicate their powers to non-governmental actors and that do not provide police, fire or emergency medical services as a result.
The bill applies to state or local governments that are an “anarchist jurisdiction” at any point during a given fiscal year, starting with the budget year that begins Oct. 1.
“If local officials refuse to do their job, the federal government won't pay for it,” Ernst said Thursday.
Ernst's bill comes after Black Lives Matter protesters have occupied Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood for more than two weeks.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said Monday that the Seattle Police Department, which was driven from the area — initially dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and later the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest — would be returning to the area after three people were shot there over the weekend, resulting in one death.
The Iowa senator contended that local leaders were not doing an adequate job keeping peace in their areas.
Katelyn Burns at Vox has a great piece that explains what exactly happened at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) that’s worth a read but here’s a key element:
What CHOP (or Occupy) didn’t have was the type of long-term investment in anti-poverty and community-building programs that activists say is the counterbalance to defunding the police.
Part of the issue, according to Justin, is that, despite coverage to the contrary, including from Vox, CHOP was never set up to be a true police-free neighborhood. It was, above all, a protest.
“I don’t think it’s fair as a laboratory for” a police-free neighborhood, said Justin. CHOP “also lacks so many other investments and so many other resources that you’d have to have to make that world work that it’s just not fair to measure it that way.”
And Emily Singer at The American Independent also brings this to our attention:
Right-wing media has been pushing that same message for weeks, overblowing the story of the autonomous zone in Seattle that local officials helped deescalate. In fact, Fox News even altered photos to make the zone look violent when it was largely peaceful.
Right-wing media also tagged along with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf as he descended upon Portland, Oregon. During that visit, Wolf touted the actions of unidentified federal agents who abducted peaceful protesters off the street to stop some incidents of graffiti in the city.
In a Fox News appearance on Tuesday, Wolf called those arrests “proactive” — something that appears unethical or illegal given that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says law enforcement officers must have probable cause to arrest someone and can't assume someone will do something illegal.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said President Donald Trump's decision to send federal law enforcement officers into U.S. cities is appropriate as long as the agents are defending federal property.
“If it's federal officers to protect federal property, I agree that it needs to be done,” Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, said Tuesday morning on a conference call with reporters. “It's important. We are not going to stand idly by and let people destroy federal property.”
Trump has deployed federal officers to Portland, Oregon, to protect federal properties from vandalism and the president said this week that he is considering sending officers into other cities around the country, including Chicago.
Here’s the reality, Ernst is using fearmongering as a desperate resort in her bid for re-election against Theresa Greenfield (D. IA). FYI, Cook Political Report now has Iowa a toss up race:
Iowa is the newest worry for Republicans, a race we are shifting from Lean Republican to Toss Up. We last moved this race into a more competitive category back in March, when freshman Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s re-election numbers were showing signs of softening. Now they’re in a very perilous position, and this race could become the tipping point of control in the Senate.
Republicans had initially downplayed the challenge Ernst, who became a rising GOP star after she promised to make Washington “squeal” during her 2014 race, faces from Theresa Greenfield. The Democrat has a compelling story of how she survived on social security benefits as her first husband, a union electrician, was killed on the job, leaving her with a small child and pregnant with another.
After Greenfield won her primary in June, a poll from venerated Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer and the Des Moines Register showed Greenfield leading Ernst by 3 points, 49%-47%. Both GOP and Democratic polling are now showing the same statistically tied race. And Ernst has had some missteps in the race and isn’t performing as well as Republicans had hoped.
Republicans are hoping to dent Greenfield’s business record, but her farm background has her more competitive in many of the Trump/Obama counties along the Mississippi River that Clinton struggled with in 2016, and so did Democratic gubernatorial nominee Fred Hubbell in his 2018 loss. With three competitive congressional races too, including two Democrats flipped in the midterms, it’s an engaged electorate across the board, tightening at the presidential level as well.
“The environment is even worse there than it was in June,’ bemoaned one national GOP strategist. “Ernst is underwater, and she needs some work.”
Ernst’s GOP allies, however, retort that Greenfield has been too guarded from voters and hasn’t been truly tested or scrutinized yet by the press in this campaign, and has been weak in media interviews with scripted answers. But again, in a year where the environment is favorable for Democrats, that may not matter.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield of Des Moines says she would like to see Congress extend the extra unemployment payments that have been going out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers are in Washington, D.C. this week working out the details of another round of COVID-19 relief. As part of the CARES Act in March, Congress added an $600 per week to unemployment payments — which is slated to run out this week. Greenfield — who is running against Republican Incumbent Joni Ernst — says the expanded unemployment is crucial for those who have lost jobs during the pandemic.
“I particularly want to make sure that our essential workers are getting the help that they need,” said Greenfield. “I believe the way to do that is to extend the expanded unemployment insurance benefits that expire this week. We need more direct payments to workers. We need to expand paid sick leave to all of our workers. Folks shouldn't have to choose between going to work sick or staying home and take care of themselves or their family and maybe lose a paycheck or lose their job.”
Let’s flip Iowa Blue big time. Click below to donate and get involved with Greenfield, Biden and their fellow Iowa Democrats campaigns:
The Politicus is a collaborative political community that facilitates content creation directly on the site. Our goal is to make the political conversation accessible to everyone.Any donations we receive will go into writer outreach. That could be advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit or person-to-person outreach on College campuses. Please help if you can: