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Senate GOP backs plan to curtail attorney general’s authority

DES MOINES — Senate Republicans Wednesday sent the governor a House GOP plan to limit the authority of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat.

Republican Senator Julian Garrett of Indianola said Miller has repeatedly joined out-of-state lawsuits seeking to overturn Trump Administration policies.

“We’re talking about political activity on the part of the attorney general at the national level and I think that’s a legitimate concern for us as legislators…Don’t just go off like ‘The Lone Ranger’ and do your thing,” said Garrett, who served a dozen years as assistant Iowa Attorney General in the late 1960s and ’70s.

The proposal from GOP legislators would force Miller to get permission from Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, the Republican-led state Executive Council or the Republican majority in the Iowa legislature to join out-of-state lawsuits.

“If none of them want to join in, it’s not unreasonable to me it seems to me to say that: ‘He shouldn’t be doing this,” Garrett said. “(Miller) ought to be tending to his duties here in the state.”

Democrats like Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo accused Republicans of being “drunk with power.”

“It’s all about politics of trying to protect this president of this United States who every day more evidence is coming out that, yes, he ought to be challenged in every court in this nation for the actions that he’s made,” Dotzler said. “…Shame on you.”

Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said Miller was easily re-elected in 2018 after joining the lawsuits that have riled Republican legislators.

“By the way, President Trump needs to be sued a few times. President Trump’s done all sorts of crazy stuff,” Bolkcom said tonight. “I’m happy and a lot of people in this state are happy that Tom Miller stood up for the people of this country and the people of this state.”

It will now be up to Governor Reynolds to decide whether to limit the attorney general’s authority. She was non-committal on Tuesday when asked about her view of the plan.

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