In a local watering hole, Santana’s Latin rock classic Oye Como Va plays on the jukebox. Among the noisy crowd, a middle-aged white man and an attractive, younger blonde sit at a bar where they repeatedly lean into each other to kiss. An everyday scene in America? Not this time, as the man turned out to be Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix.
And the married father of three turned out to be kissing a Statehouse lobbyist, not Mrs Dix.
And someone filmed them.
¡Oye como va, mi ritmo! (Listen to how my rhythm goes!)
In a political era when a sitting Republican president can pretty much ignore allegations of affairs with Playboy bunnies and porn stars, it might be surprising if a
drunken hookup over beers in a Des Moines watering hole would result in anything more than a bit of gossip that was quickly forgotten.
But things work differently in Iowa, where the old rhythms of scandal, outrage, shame, and resignation are still very much in play.
The video of the couple (embedded below), which was filmed at the Waveland Tap bar on University Avenue in Des Moines on March 1st, appeared on the local politics website Iowa Starting Line on Monday morning at 10am. At the time of publication, the author was not 100% positive that it was Dix in the video, as the low resolution video had been filmed surreptitiously and from a distance.
Any doubt about Dix’s identity was dispelled three hours later, however, when Dix abruptly resigned with a one sentence statement:
“I resign my position as Iowa State Senator and Majority Leader effective at 2 p.m. today, March 12, 2018.”
The lobbyist has been identified as Lindsey McCune from the Iowa League of Cities, a lobbying group that advocates for municipal bodies around the state.
Our 2018 Legislative Day has begun! League Director Alan Kemp and Govt Affairs Mgr Lindsey McCune welcome attendees as we start an afternoon of discussing important city issues pic.twitter.com/lGqpvYr02B
— IowaLeagueofCities (@IowaLeague) 6 February 2018
Bill Dix’s recent notoriety brings him down
The video that led to Dix’s resignation was not shot by a political rival or even a journalist. Dix was spotted by a regular at the Waveland Tap who recognized him from prominent recent media coverage.
The Iowa Senate, and Bill Dix in particular, has been under pressure following a $1.75 million sexual harassment settlement with former Iowa Senate GOP Communications Director Kirsten Anderson announced last September.
Anderson was fired in May 2013 not long after complaining about a toxic work environment, but Dix insisted she had been terminated for her poor work and no other reason.
Whatever the veracity of Dix’s claim, he made frequent appearances on local television from the controversy, making him much easier to recognize at the Waveand Tap than he realized.
Just naughty or downright predatory?
Bill Dix resigned so suddenly there was not enough time for a consensus to build in public opinion about what exactly he had done wrong. There could be little doubt that his wife and family will feel betrayed, but should kissing a woman who is not your wife be seen as a betrayal of public trust as well?
The biggest problem for Dix was who he was with at the Waveland Tap. As part of her work, McCune has been registered as a lobbyist on 500 bills before the Iowa legislature, including 200 that originated in the Senate. As Senate Majority leader, Dix controls which bills make it out of committee to the floor – a position of enormous power in the compressed timetables that most state legislatures operate under.
More than almost any other person she knows, Bill Dix could make or break the career of Lindsey McCune.
Dix’s counterpart on the other side of the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Janet Peterson said in a statement, “Because this involves Senator Dix and a lobbyist, there will be questions about the impact of this relationship on legislation.
“There is a reckoning in our country on the issue of harassment in the workplace. The new Senate Republican leader should be someone who will hold Republican senators and staff accountable for their actions in the Kirsten Anderson case and take steps immediately to address this issue.”
The original video as published on Iowa Starting Line can be seen below: