DES MOINES — One of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ appointees to the Iowa Board of Medicine failed to win confirmation by the Iowa Senate on Wednesday and minority Democrats say at least one more gubernatorial selection faces problems getting the required 33 votes.
Senators voted 30-18 to approve Katherine Asjes’ nomination, short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval. A total of 27 GOP senators, one independent and two Democrats voted yes, with 18 Democrats opposed.
Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, said he spoke with Asjes, a mother of six children whose family had lived outside the United States and in other parts of the country before moving to Iowa in 2005. He said she saw a chance of serving on the state medicine board as a way to “give back” to Iowa.
“I think that she is more than qualified for this position,” he said.
However, Asjes’ positive response to an online article on the Catholic World Report that took issue with homosexuality, promiscuity and other topics related to human sexuality caused some Democrats to question her fitness for a state board that oversees health issues.
“What I read was pretty off the wall for somebody going on the Board of Medicine,” said Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines. “She states that she completely agrees with all that this person has said and this guy goes back into the Dark Ages talking about sexuality.”
Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen of Des Moines said her members believe people serving on the Iowa Board of Medicine should protect the health of all Iowans and the online blog raised “red flags.”
Zaun later expressed his “disgust” Democrats rejected her based upon her “freedom of speech” to express an opinion.
Petersen said she informed the governor about appointees who faced challenges winning confirmation, but Reynolds’ office did not withdraw the nomination.
The deadline for the Senate to complete confirmations is April 15 so Thursday may mark the final action since senators aren’t likely to be in session Friday heading into Sunday’s deadline. On Thursday, senators voted 47-1 to confirm 20 gubernatorial nominees “en bloc” before also voting 47-1 to confirm Stephen Larson to another term as administrator of the state Alcoholic Beverages Division and 42-6 to approve Gretchen Tegeler as a member of the School Budget Review Committee.