Published: March 21 2014 | 9:26 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:57 am in

A three-member state panel unanimously ruled former state lawmaker Tony Bisignano is eligible to run for the Iowa Senate District 17 seat in Polk County. Ned Chiodo, a former state legislator and fellow Democratic primary opponent, claimed Bisignano’s drunken driving conviction in January would constitute an “infamous crime” and render him ineligible to run for office. It was Bisignano’s third conviction but was charged as his second offense due to an extended period between previous cases.

The panel included state Attorney General Tom Miller, Secretary of State Matt Schultz and Auditor Mary Mosiman. Miller reasoned the Legislature decided in 1994 that “infamous crimes” under the Constitution are felonies. Bisignano was charged with an aggravated misdemeanor. Miller said Chiodo’s claim could impact 35,000 to 50,000 Iowans who would be ineligible to vote or run for office if something less than a felony conviction meets the infamous crime definition.

Chiodo’s attorney, Gary Dickey, will appeal immediately to the Polk County District Court and request an expatiated case to go before the Supreme Court.

Joseph Glazebrook, Bisignano’s attorney, said he was pleased by the decision Friday. “This is the type of decision that should be made by the voters and not a legal technicality,” he said.

Bisignano and Chiodo are both Democratic candidates seeking the senate seat currently held by Jack Hatch, a Democrat running for governor.

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