Dix resigns after kissing video surfaces

Former Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (front left) was a featured speaker at the March 2 Grundy County Reagan Republican Dinner near Reinbeck. He resigned his post and his seat Monday after video surfaced of him kissing a statehouse lobbyist in a Des Moines bar. (Michaela Kendall/The Grundy Register photo)                             

The state senator who represents Grundy County and served as the majority leader for the last five years resigned in disgrace on Monday after a video of him kissing a statehouse lobbyist at a Des Moines bar on March 1 surfaced in a story posted by Iowa Starting Line, a left-leaning political blog.

           

Bill Dix, a 55-year-old Shell Rock Republican, had been mired in controversy over the last year related to his handling of a sexual harassment scandal at the Capitol and the subsequent firing of a former staffer in what she perceived as an act of retaliation for reporting the allegations. Kirsten Anderson eventually settled for $1.75 million and has since attended several public events to speak out against her former boss. Last summer, Dix told The Grundy Register that training had become a focal point under his watch.

           

We’ve done that on a routine annual basis ever since we became aware of the issues and have been trying to ensure that these matters are dealt with swiftly and effectively,” he said.

           

The video in question shows Dix, a married father of three, sitting close to the unnamed lobbyist and putting his arm around her at the Waveland Tap on University Avenue before eventually kissing, and an announcement on whether or not an ethics investigation will be launched due to the nature of her work has not yet been made. Dike Democrat Tracy Freese, who is challenging for the seat in Senate District 25, argued that the revelations are indicative of a problematic culture within the state GOP.

           

“The impression of the environment within the Republican senate, especially the males, makes this not surprising,” she said. “I defer to whatever ethics rules are in place right now that govern this type of behavior… (But) there is a clear conflict of interest.”

           

Now, he leaves the most powerful seat in the Iowa Senate vacated, and Republicans will look to another candidate to take on Freese in a special election that could be held as early as April 3.

           

Senator Dix came back into the news early in January when protestors from around the state gathered outside of his rural Shell Rock home to harangue him for his positions on labor, taxes and health care. At the Grundy County Reagan Republican Dinner near Reinbeck on March 2—a day after the events in the video allegedly unfolded—he told patrons that he’d “never had more fun representing you than I have in the last year and a half,” and he “hoped to continue that” before adding that while his prospective opponent, who distributed bumper stickers that read “#FreeseDixOff,” may not take herself seriously, the GOP should.

 

“It just made me chuckle because clearly, as a strategic marketing ploy, it worked,” Freese said, before arguing that Dix had failed to take women seriously. “Well, you have a $1.75 million taxpayer (settlement) worth of understanding. Yeah, you’d know.”

 

Dix, who served in the State House from 1996 to 2006, unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House in 2006 and was first elected to the Senate in 2010, could not be immediately reached for comment, but Freese—despite her earlier remarks—softened her tone when referencing the former Senator’s wife and children.

 

“My heart goes out to his family. They don’t deserve this by any means. They don’t deserve the attention that this is causing, and I have great empathy,” she said. “From one human being to another human being, regardless of the politics, I feel for the family.” 

 

This story is developing. Check out the upcoming edition of the Grundy Register for more details. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here.