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Reynolds Campaign Cleared in Ethics Hearing Over Plane Use, Appeal Coming

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Reynolds Campaign has been cleared by a state ethics board after two complaints were filed regarding her use of a company jet provided by a donor.

The flight was for her and her husband to travel to the 2017 Liberty Bowl to watch ISU play in Memphis.

The first complaint questioned if the governor could even take this kind of a contribution, and the second alleges that the reported cost of the flight was far less than what it would cost the average person.

The question in the first complaint involved the CEO of Sedgwick, David North. Sedgwick is contracted with the state to handle all its employee's workman's comp claims. Because of that, North is considered a "restricted donor" and could pay for the flight on the company plane if it was considered a campaign contribution. The Reynolds Campaign said while on the trip to the Liberty Bowl she met with potential donors and voters. The board, comprised of two democrats, a republican, and an independent unanimously determined this was allowed, and had been allowed in the past.

“Has this board allowed democratic candidates for governor and democratic governors to accept in-kind contributions of flights in the past?” asked board member Jim Albert

“Yes, and republicans, Branstad accepted them as well” replied legal counsel and board executive director Megan Tooker.

The second complaint was over the reported cost of the flight, $2800 total for both Governor Reynolds and her husband.

“I gotta tell you, if it's $1400 a seat there's gonna be a lot of Iowa State fans that would want to get on that jet and go to the liberty bowl with the governor. I've yet to find a charter service that provides that affordable of transportation” said Gary Dickey, who filed the complaint.

Dickey formerly worked as general counsel for Governor Tom Vilsack.

He says after getting quotes from three different charter services for flights from Des Moines to Memphis, the lowest estimate was double the cost that Reynolds paid. The board ruled that the contributor is required to report the fair market value at the time of the contribution, and the campaign reports that figure. Dickey plans to appeal.

“Perhaps we appeal or perhaps we file a subsequent complaint that's more detailed and provides more legal analysis” he said.

Dickey has not issued a timetable for when he will file an appeal.