DAVENPORT — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday defended her decision to appoint her 78-year-old father to a panel that helps select judges in central Iowa, saying he was "just like" many others who serve on state boards.
Reynolds last month appointed her father, Charles Strawn, to an unpaid six-year term on the District 5A judicial nominating commission, which recommends candidates for judgeships to the governor in fast-growing Dallas County and three other counties outside of Des Moines.
Democratic critics of the Republican governor and some who follow the legal system have called the appointment unusual. A recent Quad-City Times newspaper editorial called it an example of "brash nepotism."
In his April 13 application, Strawn wrote that he was "invited" to serve on the board. He was appointed four days later. The governor's office announced the appointment May 1 along with dozens of others in a press release that didn't mention that Strawn, of St. Charles, was her father.
Speaking to reporters after an event in Davenport on Tuesday, the governor said her father was a retired factory worker for John Deere and farmer.
"This is an individual that loves the state and wanted to volunteer and give back, just like hundreds of other Iowans that we appoint to boards and commissions," she said. "That's a simple fact."
Reynolds added that her dad had coached Little League baseball teams and been involved in county government.
The 11-member commission Strawn has joined will meet on Thursday in Indianola to interview finalists for an opening created by the retirement of District Judge Paul Huscher. The commission will recommend two finalists to the governor, who will make the pick.
Iowa law doesn't bar government officials from appointing relatives to unpaid jobs.