Private jet use not improper, rules ethics panel on Gov. Kim Reynolds
What proves an advantageous medium for aerial transportation for many, has become temporarily a hindrance in the daily operations for Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa. In the past 14 months, Governor Kim Reynolds accepted nine individual private jet charter rides from various locations, according to well-documented travel sources. These charters came under fire, as they were viewed by many as impermissible and above the allowed constrictions of campaign regulations.
However, an impartial Ethics Panel recently ruled that Governor Reynolds operated well within the law in accepting 9 private charter rides. The panel justified her actions based upon Iowa gift law, which allows for select employment of donated facilities for political use. These private jet charters were therefore categorized as in-campaign gifts from benefactors.
Iowa’s 43rd governor immediately defended her actions, citing the legality of her private charter employment. Only recently did she see her defense yield dividends, given the fact that the ethics panel has aligned itself firmly in her favor.
The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board has an extensive history of ruling on disputes of a similar matter, specifically any irregularities or concerns that arise as a result of or associated with the campaign trail. In their deliberation, the board itself considered details from 2 independent charters to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, undertaken by Governor Kim Reynolds by way of aerial transportation. The airplane was registered to the chief executive of Sedgwick, and would under some circumstances constitute undue privileges.
In addition to her Memphis visit, Reynolds was also documented as receiving private charter ventures from casino operator Gerald Kirke, as well as from businessman David Barker, among others. Many of these associated individuals have made an established habit of supporting political candidates with donated aerial transportation, with then-prospective Governor Reynolds as simply the latest to benefit from the gesture.
Much deliberation concerned the actual pricing estimations for the flights. While initial flight values were said to be too low of an estimation, Iowa legislature defines flight costs at the commercial level; therefore, even though Reynolds and her family traveled by private jet, the flight estimation costs were made to be at the commercial threshold, keeping the value well within the guidelines for in-campaign contributions.
Her trip to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl was further categorized as a work outing, despite claims that it should rightly be called a family vacation. Given that Governor Kim Reynolds planned campaigning ventures during her time in Memphis, the ethics panel ruled again in her favor.
The panel furthermore cited the past actions of well-known politicians. Private charter employment of a similar nature has taken place during many of the election cycles in the recent past, without hindrance. Among the users of private jet transportation were Senator Jack Hatch and the former governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack, who used jet chartered transportation three different times during a single campaign.
Ultimately, the ethics board ruled in Reynolds’ favor on all accounts. Her actions were classified as acting well within the existing legislature, taking advantage of “legitimate in-kind campaign contributions, therefore declared to be “allowable under Iowa‘s gift law.”
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