Iowa State Senate leader resigns after release of video that shows him kissing lobbyist

Iowa State Senate leader resigns after release of video that shows him kissing lobbyist
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, left, talks with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg. (The Associated Press)

DES MOINES (AP) — The majority leader of the Iowa Senate resigned Monday after a website published video and photos showing the married lawmaker kissing a Statehouse lobbyist.

Bill Dix submitted a one-sentence resignation letter several hours after the liberal website Iowa Starting Line published its report about the Republican from Shell Rock.

Dix did not comment on the circumstances surrounding his resignation as majority leader and as state senator, though Republican Senate President Jack Whitver alluded to the allegations in a statement.

“I believe he made the right decision for himself and for his district, but most importantly, I believe he made the decision in the best interest of his family,” said Whitver about Dix.

Republicans in the GOP-controlled chamber plan to elect a new majority leader Wednesday.

The incident caps a swift response from Senate Republicans after Iowa Starting Line posted video and photos Monday showing Dix and the woman sitting together at a Des Moines bar. The video shows the two kiss. The website said the incident was recorded March 1.

The woman was identified as a lobbyist for the Iowa League of Cities, an organization that seeks to sway legislation at the State Capitol. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Robert L. Palmer, director of government affairs and legislative counsel for the organization, said in an email to AP: “We are taking what we believe are appropriate actions, but because this is a personnel matter we cannot comment further.”

After Dix’s resignation, GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement: “I believe he made the right decision in stepping down. … Iowans hold their elected officials to a high standard, and as elected officials, we have an obligation to lead.”

Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, released a statement calling the video a “serious matter.”

“Because this involves Senator Dix and a lobbyist, there will be questions about the impact of this relationship on legislation,” she said in a statement.

Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said legislators need to be aware that they are in positions of power and should know to avoid romantic relationships with people who could be seeking to influence their decision-making, according to the Des Moines Register.

Petersen used her statement to reiterate her criticism of Dix for how he handled a recent sexual misconduct case within the chamber involving a former Senate GOP staffer. The ex-employee filed a lawsuit several years ago claiming she was fired after reporting misconduct in the workplace that included the use of sexual language. The lawsuit went to trial last summer, and she was awarded $1.75 million.

Dix has maintained that the ex-staffer was fired for poor performance. An internal report later revealed that senators made “sexually suggestive comments” or discussed “sexual preferences” on the chamber floor in recent years and that staff members in the Republican Senate office were unlikely to report misconduct because of fear of retaliation.

The Iowa Legislature has since hired a human resources director to oversee harassment complaints at the State Capitol.

Legislative leaders in the Republican-controlled Iowa House have not commented on Dix, who had been a top Republican in the Senate for several years. He became majority leader when Republicans took control of the chamber after the 2016 election.

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