Dismissal of ethics complaint against Senator who spoke to DNR about son-in-law’s project

DES MOINES — A Senate panel has unanimously dismissed an ethics complaint alleging a state senator pressured officials to approve state permits for his son-in-law’s cattle feedlot.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has approved the application for a company called Supreme Beef to feed up to 11-thousand-600 cattle in a lot near Marquette in northeast Iowa. The complaint against Republican Senator Dan Zumbach of Ryan was filed by the Committee to Save Bloody Run Creek. Bloody Run is the name of a trout stream that’s near the Supreme Beef site. The group said Zumbach spoke with D-N-R staff at least twice about the project.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee says Zumbach had every right to do what he did and legislators shouldn’t open the door to complaints like this. A Democrat on the committee says some of Zumbach’s actions were eyebrow-raising, but she joined with other members of the Senate Ethics Committee to dismiss the complaint.

Zumbach does not have a financial stake in the cattle lot. Zumbach has said his advocacy on his son-in-law’s behalf was the same as it’s been for any constituent trying to navigate the regulatory process.