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Thompson: Setting the Record Straight

After a court acquittal former Labor Secretary, Ray Donovan, was famously quoted as saying, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”

I’ve chosen pursuits that have put me under a microscope for public scrutiny. I was an Army Officer and after leaving the service I got involved in politics.

I went through a bad divorce in the service. I had put my wife through college and grad school. At the time of our divorce I was stationed at Fort Bragg and she was a medical student in Virginia. After she decided It was over she bragged to me about her affairs while I was deployed. I had her served with divorce papers citing fault for adultery; this meant she would receive no alimony. She became upset and begin to throw things at me. She made a lot of noise in that cramped college apartment. The police were summoned and arrested her for Domestic Violence.

I learned that if she was convicted she would be kicked out of medical school. As much as she had hurt me I felt it was best for our son if his mother was a doctor so I refused to testify against her. Immediately after the case was dismissed her mother fled the court room with my son.

I left court and drove back to North Carolina. She was determined to make me suffer for her arrest. Her cousin, Jeff Booth was a Special Agent for the Secret Service. He called Fort Bragg in his official capacity and told them I had planned to harm my wife. Fort Bragg notified the Fayetteville Police of the “Secret Service investigation.” Much to the later chagrin of my attorney I made a statement to the police after they picked me up and told them about the relation of Booth to my wife. They felt they made a mistake and were on the hook for a lawsuit and dragged their feet for a few weeks before dismissing the case. My Army commanders overreacted. Neither of them ever got a promotion again. There was a high threshold in North Carolina for expunging records. I had to show that there was no probable cause to initiate a charge in the first place. Nevertheless it was an easy burden for me to meet citing the maliciousness of the cause. An expungement was granted and my record remained clean.

After the dust settled I was promoted to Major. After two wars and constant relocations the service had worn me out. I was accepted into a grad program at Harvard and left the service. My experiences had shown me that much of government abuse was the result of bureaucrats who were not intentionally malicious; yet when bureaucrats made mistakes they would do anything to cover it up to save their job and pension. I had witnessed commanders that were motivated by their retirement benefits over their troops and mission. So I spent my time at Harvard studying pension reform and electioneering. I wanted to work in government overhauling public employment so it would reward stewardship over longevity. After I graduated I moved back home to Iowa and got involved in electing better people to public office.

Once again I found myself in drama. A person that was close developed substance abuse problems and stole a lot of money. She attempted to extort me to cover up what she has done. She threatened to lie to a court but I didn’t buck. She linked up with an attorney who was interested in running for office and thought he could use it to make a name for himself. The day before court they knew they would lose so they contacted Ryan Foley of the Associated Press to pressure me to settle. The only difference between Foley and a paparazzi photographer trying to get a photo up Brittany Spears skirt as she got out of a car is that Foley publishes for the AP instead of the Enquirer. Foley called me and asked me to comment before he published. I told him the circumstances and the motivation and the next day in court it would be settled in my favor with my integrity intact. I asked him if he planned to publish before the hearing. He said, “I’m not sure. I’ll talk to my editor and see what I can do about holding it.” After he got off the phone he posted his Brittany Spears photo as quickly as possible worried that if he waited a day it wouldn’t be news.

The next day in court the case was tossed. The attorney was scolded by the judge. He is now under investigation by the attorney discipline board for creating pretrial publicity to influence court, lying to the judge and is facing suspension of his license to practice law.

For his part, Foley wasn’t being exploitive for partisan purposes. He’s just exploitive. A week later he was defending the AP story on former Democratic Iowa First Lady, Mari Culver, for being intoxicated at the state fair. I’m a God fearing, beer drinking conservative and I’m sure the main reason people are not drunk at the state fair is because they charge about 8 bucks per beer. The first campaign I ever volunteered for was about twenty years ago when I was still a Democrat. I brought in friends and made phone calls for Chet Culver’s primary race for Secretary of State. Mari was running the day to day operation. I got to know her pretty well. She is a well-intentioned and intelligent woman. She is part of the Culver / Kennedy clique in politics who aren’t known as tea-totallers. But it was pretty obscene to try and paint Mari as a person with alcohol problems. Foley’s effort to do so was about as newsworthy as pornography.

Last week the Des Moines Register retracted a smear piece they published about me. I’ve started to get used to the hits but I’ll continue to stand tall, keep my integrity intact, and make the best of it.

I received a Bronze Star for my service with Special Forces in Afghanistan. In Iraq I received a citation for Valor for killing the enemy and evacuating my fallen teammates. I’m not surprised that media would rather promote vicious lies than public service.

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved since moving back home. I’ve helped recruit and elect people at all levels of government who can make a difference in their community.

I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences. Lately I’ve wondered if I would rather face enemy bullets than hostile press. I think combat is probably less stressful than having your life torn apart for headlines. I’ve made some bad choices in women and realized I’m a better fighter than lover. But I’m not even 40 yet. I’m resilient. There’s still a lot of good I can do. I’ve become a partisan lightning rod but I haven’t breeched my integrity and I’ve learned to roll with the punches. I’m going to keep it up.

I mostly just listen to county music anymore. But I still enjoy Frank Sinatra.

“Will you remember the famous men who have to fall to rise again,
So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, start all over again.”

John Thompson is on the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee and a candidate for State Treasurer