The 2015 Council Bluffs City Council election campaign season looked like something out of the national political arena. And not in a good way.
In October, a Council Bluffs resident disgruntled with city government has started a political action committee – “Veterans Defending Truth.”
The PAC’s chair, Mark Tompkins of Council Bluffs, declined to reveal the name of any individual or individuals associated with the PAC, stating he is the only one contributing financially to the group. Asked about the committee’s purpose, Tompkins said he “hopes to bring a voice of fiscal sanity” to city government, which he characterized as “left wing and spendthrift.”
Shortly after being established, the PAC distributed a flyer encouraging city voters to reject the candidacies of incumbents Lynne Branigan, Nate Watson and Sharon White as well as that of newcomer John Burns.
The same flyer encouraged voters to vote only for newcomers Roger Sandau and Meg Youngblood. Sandau and Youngblood said they didn’t have any connection to the group or Tompkins.
Sandau was elected to the council, while Watson and White retained their seats.
Former Council Bluffs School Board member Joe Hotz said that a man came to his west end house, introduced himself to his wife as Councilman Al Ringgenberg and gave her a flyer headed, “Why does the city council ignore you?”
Hotz also said an identical flyer had been left in the door of his home a week earlier. Both flyers were printed, “Paid for by Veterans Defending Truth.”
Tompkins said he didn’t produce the initial flyer, which would’ve been distributed before he’d made a decision on which candidates to support. Asked if he had any idea who might be distributing flyers marked as being paid for by Veterans Defending Truth, he said, “I don’t know anything about that, but now they have my permission.”
Ringgenberg, who said he knows Tompkins, denied handing out the Veterans Defending Truth flyers. Ringgenberg said he was in the west part of Council Bluffs last Saturday handing out his own flyers, which were marked “Paid for by Patriots for Col. Al Ringgenberg,” as well as application forms for absentee ballots.
The councilman told The Daily Nonpareil his flyers did not recommend who voters should vote for in the Nov. 3 city election and he did not know why Hotz’s wife would identify him as the person distributing the Veterans Defending Truth flyers.
An evaluation of city spending is something Ringgenberg and others have called for in the past. The councilman criticized the Playland Park expansion project – which will include apartments, business offices and retail space – as a waste of taxpayer dollars.
As the council moves forward, will Veterans Defending Truth continue its campaign for a more conservative approach to city government? Will the council take a more conservative tact?
Time will tell.