Branstad's BOR appointees rejected
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013 16:04
On April 8, the Iowa Senate rejected Governor Branstad’s appointments of Craig Lang and Robert Cramer to the Iowa Board of Regents.
Currently, Lang serves as the president of the Board of Regents. Cramer runs a bridge construction firm, and formerly worked for the Family Leader, a conservative group in Iowa.
In a split vote between Democrats and Republicans, Cramer was voted against 27-23 and Lang was voted against 30-20. To be appointed to the BOR, the Iowa senate must approve candidates by a two-thirds majority.
Iowa Senator Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, said that he can’t speak for other senators, but he felt that “under (Lang’s) leadership, the Board of Regents lacked transparency in decision making.”
“What’s more, he failed to make changes that honored a public decision making process benefitting a public university. Therefore, I could not vote to re-confirm,” Danielson said.
In regards to voting against Cramer, Danielson said, “I had deep concerns about his commitment to academic freedom and ensuring equal rights for all students and employees, given his past public actions as a sitting school board member and leader of a statewide nonprofit,” Danielson said.
Danielson said that Cramer’s public advocacy to ban books and lack of support for same-sex marriage “disqualified him to lead academic institutions, that should be doing just the opposite.”
Christopher Larimer, associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa, said the rejection of the BOR appointments is unusual in Iowa.
Larimer pointed to the increase in partisanship in the Iowa government.
“The rejection was still a bit of a surprise, particularly if you look at the history of such votes,” Larimer said. “Similar to U.S. Congress, we are seeing and hearing about more activities in Iowa government that break down neatly along party lines.”
However, Larimer pointed out there is still bipartisan activity in the Iowa government, but the split between Senate Democrats and House Republicans has slowed down legislative activity.
In March, student leaders from all three Iowa universities signed a letter expressing concerns over the appointment of Cramer to the BOR because of his actions regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communication and sent it to the Iowa Senate.
In an interview on March 26, UNI Student Body President Jordan Bancroft-Smithe said he signed the letter because of Cramer’s actions towards the LGBT community.
“The point of it is not that we think that someone who doesn’t agree with gay rights shouldn’t be on the board. We understand that there’s going to be a diverse set of opinions on the board,” Bancroft-Smithe said. “What bothered us about Cramer was that he was so active in his pursuit of getting rid of anti-discrimination rights for LGBT individuals.”
Governor Branstad must now appoint other individuals as he sees fit to the BOR. The Iowa Senate will have a chance to vote on these appointments as well.