With school board elections just around the corner and other statewide races heating up, here is a summary of issues that are likely to come up:
- Public resources
Public moneys cannot be expended for political purposes (Iowa Code section 56.12A) and public resources may not be used for political purposes. This means public email addresses may not be used to endorse a candidate or issue. Whether a district employee may use their public email to remind colleagues of election day or just to get the vote out (without advocating) is up to local district rules.
- Candidate forum held in public school building
This is fine IF all candidates have been invited, at least two participate, and the forum is not set up to benefit one candidate over the others. If the forum complies with these conditions, campaign materials may even be distributed at the forum.
- Candidates speaking just to students in classrooms
Candidates may "come in and speak about their campaigns, their positions, and other issues so long as the candidates do not use words of 'express advocacy'… such as 'vote for,' 'elect,' 'defeat,'" etc.
- Posting campaign literature in classrooms
When such materials are posted as part of the curriculum on government, elections, and campaigning, this is allowable IF literature from all major candidates in the election is posted upon request.
When in doubt, questions should be referred to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board (http://www.state.ia.us/government/iecdb/), which is the state entity that regulates election laws and public officer ethics in Iowa.