PUBLIC OFFICE ELIGIBILITY TO BE DECIDED FRIDAY

Rod Boshart
Published: March 19 2014 | 5:07 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:53 am in

A three-member state panel will decide Friday whether a second drunken driving conviction constitutes an infamous crime that would disqualify a candidate for public office. The issue was raised Wednesday by an attorney representing former state legislator Ned Chiodo, who has challenged Democratic primary opponent Tony Bisignano’s candidacy in the three-way race for the Iowa Senate District 17 seat in Polk County. Attorney Gary Dickey contended that Bisignano, also a former state lawmaker, lost his right to hold office due to a drunken driving conviction in January. It was Bisignano’s third conviction for operating while intoxicated, but it was charged as his second offense due to the amount of time that had elapsed since his previous cases in 1998 and 2001. Dickey argued Bisignano’s offenses met the constitutional definition of an infamous crime but attorney Joseph Glazebrook refuted the claim, pointing to statutory changes that have altered and evolved the definition in a way that requires the challenge against Bisignano’s candidacy to be overruled. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller noted that the voting rights of 35,000 to 50,000 Iowans who have two convictions for aggravated misdemeanors could be impacted if it’s decided that something less than a felony conviction meets the infamous crime definition. A state panel consisting of Miller, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and State Auditor Mary Mosiman heard both sides’ arguments and will render a decision on Friday. Schultz said the matter should be decided quickly because primary ballots need to be printed and he expects the losing side likely will appeal the matter to court.

 

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