Sen. Bill Dix resigns after online video shows him kissing lobbyist
Senator Bill Dix, the top Republican in the Iowa Senate, resigned Monday, after an online video surfaced apparently showing Dix kissing a lobbyist at a local Des Moines bar.
The left-leaning political blog Iowa Starting Line first posted the story just after 9 a.m. Monday, including photos and a 52-second video of Dix in close conversation with the woman in question. At the end of the video, the two share a kiss.
By Monday afternoon, Dix released a statement announcing his resignation as Senate Majority Leader and state senator, though he did not mention the allegations surrounding the video.
The video shows Dix — who is married with three children according to his biography on the legislature's website — and the woman at the Waveland Tap in Des Moines on March 1, according to Starting Line.
The news about Dix, who has been in the legislature for 18 years, left many at the capitol shocked— surprised by the story and the subsequent swift resignation.
"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," Senate President Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said in a statement.
“This has taken everybody surprise, me included," said Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone, who is president pro tempore in the Iowa Senate.
This now leaves the most powerful position in the Senate vacant, with Senate Republicans slated to elect a new leader Wednesday morning. This also means there will be a special election to fill now former Senator Bill Dix's seat in the chamber.
Reporters asked Governor Reynolds about the allegations surrounding Dix at her weekly press conference Monday morning, at which time Reynolds said she had just heard of the news and was "disappointed," calling for a meeting with Dix that afternoon. He resigned before that meeting could happen, her spokeswoman confirmed.
Reynolds will have to announce a date for the special election for Dix's seat by the end of the week, according to Iowa code.
"After hearing the disappointing news about Senator Dix this morning, I believe he made the right decision in stepping down," Reynolds said upon the news of his resignation. "Iowans hold their elected officials to a high standard, and as elected officials, we have an obligation to lead."
The top Democrat in the Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said Republicans have an opportunity to "get it right" in electing their new leader and change the culture at the capitol, which has been plagued by a sexual harassment case in which former Senate GOP staffer Kirsten Anderson won $1.75 million from the state this summer.
Anderson said she was fired from her job within the Republican caucus shortly after reporting sexual harassment in the workplace years ago. Dix was at the center of the case for firing her, which resulted in calls for his resignation at that time. Dix maintained Anderson was fired for poor work performance.
Petersen said the Anderson case and the incident with the lobbyist are "connected."
“It is an issue of power and how one chooses to use it," Petersen said.
Lawmakers stressed that they'd keep working business as usual despite the shake-up, as they face a second legislative deadline at the end of this week.
"That's why people elected us, to come here and do a job and we're going to stay focused on that job," Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines said. Schneider described the closed-door meeting in which Dix announced to Republican colleagues he was resigning as "somber" and "sad."
"Funnel week won't change because of Republican shenanigans," Petersen said.
In order to survive the "funnel" bills that moved out of the Senate have to make it through a full-committee in the House, and vice versa, in order to remain alive for consideration.