Deliberate Deception Hurts Leach's Claims of Integrity

Gary Grommon

The Gazette

December 3, 2004, p. 4A

Now that the wheels are coming off the fake rain forest project, it's instructive to recall the federal role in this project.

A telling exchange took place during the late October KCRG-TV9 debate between Rep. Jim Leach and his challenger, David Franker. KCRG's Mike Wagner asking Leach why he voted yes for $50 million on a plastic rain forest when there were other more pressing needs and a $400-plus billion federal deficit. Leach replied that he had voted no on the rain forest $50 million, explaining that there could be a federal component but that other needs were more pressing.

Franker didn't let him get away with that deception. Franker pointed out that the $50 million January vote was attached to an omnibus spending bill of several hundred billion dollars -- that passed by an overwhelming margin.

The real rain forest vote had been in November j2003 when the rain forest amount was $70 million -- attached to the Energy bill that barely passed the House but didn't pass in the Senate. Leach advocated strongly for it behind the scenes (revealed by Coralville City Manager Kelly Hayworth when he called the "Talk of Iowa" radio show to thank Leach profusely for helping to secure taxpayer millions for the rain forest). Leach's pro-rain forest comments were also on the front page of The Gazette the day after that vote.

Leach's answer in the debate was a deliberate deception of the voters. Integrity?

Gary Grommon
Cedar Rapids