Parties bad at vetting candidates | Guest Columnists


Attention: No identification with actual persons is intended or should be inferred with this column.

While living in nine cities in four states I’ve heard stories about men and women who are rumored to have been involved in or affected by what I simply call inappropriate adult behavior.

I’ve been a witness in court to testify on behalf of a person accused of misconduct. I’ve read documented statements from 45 people who clarified and quickly resolved a he-said, she-said incident. As an academic department head, I have counseled students, faculty and staff about alleged wrongdoing and discussed due process procedures.

A youth minister reportedly gave underage boys cigars at a church outing while he talked with the boys about the accompanying teenage females’ bodies. College students who lobby at the Capitol on behalf of their university have expressed uncomfortable feelings about certain legislators. It is reported the elected officials’ hands were on the females’ (especially) shoulders and arms while greeting them and insisting on a photo, getting way too close, supposedly, for comfort. For quite some time, the Iowa Capitol has been rumored to be a little Peyton Place between legislators, lobbyists, staff, clerks and pages.

There are a multitude of stories. Rumors, or is there any truth to these stories?

We now know many individuals involved in improper behavior go on to become elected officials because no one came forward to report salacious incidents to religious leaders, police, school officials, city administrators, political party officials and employers.

Let’s face another reality. It’s obvious our political parties haven’t done their due diligence to thoroughly investigate a candidate’s background. We need to do a much better job of vetting political candidates, even if they are seeking re-election. A more thorough screening of a candidate’s reason for leaving previous employers, especially those who are job hoppers, is required.

Iowa citizens are already saddled with paying $1.75 million for the GOP Senate’s sexual harassment settlement. Enough is enough.

While I’m sure it is very uncomfortable for a child, teenager, young adult or adult to report incidences of impropriety, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and as a society, we need to encourage our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and peers to report inappropriate behavior to responsible adults we trust will investigate the situation and take proper action.

We should not tolerate or protect troubled and immature adult offenders from punishment. If we sweep allegations under the rug, we are as guilty as the perpetrator.

If you have knowledge of improper behavior, elected or otherwise, report the incident. Here are the contacts: 1) faith leader, school administrator, police, sheriff or alleged adult’s employer, 2) Jeff Kaufman, chairman, Republican Party of Iowa; (515) 282-8105 and/or 3) Troy Price, chair, Iowa Democratic Party; (515) 244-7292.

A watershed moment is before us to stand up and speak out. Let’s clean up our communities and state.

Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.

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