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Dickey v. Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 11, 2019

GARY DICKEY JR., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
IOWA ETHICS AND CAMPAIGN DISCLOSURE BOARD, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K. Vaudt, Judge.

         Gary Dickey Jr. appeals from the dismissal of his petition for judicial review.

          Gary Dickey of Dickey & Campbell Law Firm, PLC, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and David M. Ranscht, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Gary Dickey Jr. appeals from the dismissal of his petition for judicial review by which he sought to challenge a decision of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. Because we agree with the district court that Dickey has not demonstrated "a specific and injurious effect" such that he may obtain judicial review of the Board's ruling under Iowa Code section 17A.19(1), we affirm.

         On December 30, 2017, Governor Kim Reynolds, her husband, and two of the Reynolds's adult children traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, on a plane provided by David North. While in Memphis, Governor Reynolds engaged in activities related to her election campaign and attended the Liberty Bowl, a college football game. In its January 19, 2018 disclosure report, Governor Reynolds's campaign committee—Kim Reynolds for Iowa—reported receiving an in-kind contribution in the form of a flight from North in the amount of $2880.

         Dickey filed a complaint with the Board alleging the Reynolds campaign underreported the fair market value of the flight. The Board met on September 20 to discuss this issue. The Board ultimately dismissed Dickey's complaint, concluding that it was not "legally sufficient" because it did not provide facts that would establish a violation of a provision of Iowa Code chapter 68A or 68B, Iowa Code section 8.7, [1] or administrative rules adopted by the Board. A copy of the Board's order dismissing Dickey's complaint was mailed to Dickey on September 24, 2018.

         On October 9, Dickey filed a petition for judicial review, asserting the Reynolds campaign undervalued the in-kind contribution from North and alleging it was wrong for the Board to dismiss his complaint. Dickey asked the district court to "reverse the Board's order, award a judgment with costs assessed to the Board, and remand with instructions to process the complaint in accord with the requirements of Iowa Code section 68B.32B."

         The Board responded by filing a pre-answer motion to dismiss, alleging Dickey lacks standing to seek judicial review of the Board's decision to dismiss his complaint. Dickey filed a resistance to the motion to dismiss and a declaration. In the declaration, Dickey declares he has served as counsel to numerous candidate committees and is currently the treasurer for a Des Moines city council member; he regularly reviews campaign disclosure reports filed with the Board both in his personal and professional capacities; and campaign disclosure reports "aid in [his] evaluation of candidates for public office." He further states he "find[s] access to accurate campaign finance information necessary for [him] to evaluate the gubernatorial candidates and track whether a candidate's most generous donors receive special favors in return."

         The district court granted the motion to dismiss, concluding Dickey was not a person "aggrieved or adversely affected" by the Board's final action, as required by Iowa Code section 17A.19(1). Dickey appeals.

         Iowa Code chapter 68B contains no provision expressly authorizing complainants to seek judicial review if their complaint is dismissed by the Board. Cf. Fed. Election Comm'n v. Akins, 524 U.S. 11, 19 (1998) (noting Federal Election Campaign Act allows "'[a]ny party aggrieved by an order of the Commission dismissing a complaint filed by such party . . . [to] file a petition' in district court seeking review of that dismissal" (quoting 2 U.S.C. § 437g(a)(8)(A))). Instead, Iowa Code chapter 68B allows judicial review only in accordance with chapter 17A. Iowa Code § 68B.33 ("Judicial review of the actions of the board may be sought in accordance with chapter 17A.").

         "Judicial review is available to '[a] person or party who has exhausted all adequate administrative remedies and who is aggrieved or adversely affected by any final agency action.'" Iowans for Tax Relief v. Campaign Fin. DisclosureComm'n, 331 ...


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