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DES MOINES — Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, an 18-year veteran of the Iowa Legislature, abruptly resigned his leadership and District 25 position Monday in the wake of a video posted online that appeared to show the Shell Rock Republican kissing a female lobbyist at a Des Moines bar.

In a short statement, Dix announced his resignation as majority leader and state senator, effective at 2 p.m. Monday. He sent a resignation letter to Iowa Senate President Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, and House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, in accordance with Iowa Code requirement.

Senate President Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, declined comment after a closed-door caucus of the 29-member Senate GOP majority. But his office issued a statement confirming Dix’s departure.

“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,” Whitver said in his statement.

“Senate Republicans will continue to move the policies Iowans elected us to pursue,” Whitver added. “After discussions with the Republican caucus this afternoon, an election to fill the position of Iowa Senate majority leader will be held on Wednesday.”

The woman was identified as a lobbyist for Iowa League of Cities, an organization that seeks to sway legislation at the state Capitol. She did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Robert L. Palmer, director of government affairs and legislative counsel for the organization, said in an email to the Associated Press: “We are taking what we believe are appropriate actions, but because this is a personnel matter we cannot comment further.”

Dix, a third-generation farmer who was born and raised on his family farm near Janesville, met with fellow Republicans for about 15 minutes behind closed doors in a Senate committee room where staffers had placed a large white board in front of the glass window to keep TV cameras, reporters or others from seeing in the room.

Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, filled in for Dix at the start of Monday’s session and the majority leader did not make any public comments during the day’s proceedings.

“He did the right thing for himself, for his family and for Iowans today,” said Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, who attended the meeting. “As a caucus we’re going to move forward.”

Earlier in the day, Gov. Kim Reynolds expressed “extreme disappointment” and told reporters at her 11 a.m. weekly news conference she planned to meet privately with the Senate majority leader to discuss the situation and get more information concerning the video posted on the Iowa Starting Line blog.

“With what little I know, I’m certainly disappointed in what I’m hearing,” Reynolds told reporters.

“I think Iowans hold their elected officials to a high standard. They expect us to lead and I expect to lead,” the governor said. “I want to know the facts. I’m extremely disappointed in what I’m hearing but until I have an opportunity to hear the story I’m not going to comment yet.”

But by early afternoon, Dix made the decision to end his Senate stay in the final year of his second term. He previously served in the Iowa House for five terms and was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010 and became majority leader after the 2016 election. He represented Butler, Grundy, Hardin and Story counties.

Sen. David Johnson, an Ocheyedan independent who left the Republican Party in 2016 over differences with now-GOP President Donald Trump, said he had not seen the video but noted he had heard similar reports about Dix prior to Monday’s posting of the video. He called for Dix to resign as majority leader.

“It’s a disgrace to the majority party caucus. I think he needs to make the decision to at least step down from leadership,” said Johnson. “We don’t need this ongoing story about where Senate Republican leadership is on these issues dealing with women.”

Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, released a statement calling the video a “serious matter.”

“Because this involves Senator Dix and a lobbyist, there will be questions about the impact of this relationship on legislation,” she said in a statement.

Petersen used her statement to reiterate her criticism of Dix for how he handled a recent sexual misconduct case within the chamber, which involved a former Senate GOP staffer. The ex-employee filed a lawsuit several years ago claiming she was fired after reporting misconduct in the workplace that included the use of sexual language. The lawsuit went to trial last summer, and she was later awarded $1.75 million.

Dix has maintained the ex-staffer was fired for poor performance. An internal report later revealed senators made “sexually suggestive comments” or discussed “sexual preferences” on the chamber floor in recent years, and staff members in the Republican Senate office were unlikely to report misconduct because of fear of retaliation.

The Iowa Legislature has since hired a human resources director to oversee harassment complaints at the state Capitol.

Legislative leaders in the Republican-controlled Iowa House have not commented on Dix, who had been a top Republican in the Senate for several years. He became majority leader after GOP lawmakers took control of the chamber following the 2016 election.

Reynolds said she hoped the majority party leaders could “move on” with the 2018 session in pushing plans to cut taxes, balance the budget and address other priorities would not be impacted by Monday’s development.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Statehouse reporter for The Courier

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