Entries in Iowa (8)


Obama Highlights Federal Response to Drought in Iowa

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(BOONE, Iowa) -- Touring drought-stricken Iowa, President Obama Monday showcased the power of incumbency as he touted his administration’s response to the drought and announced new federal aid to help farmers and ranchers.

The federal government is buying up to $170 million worth of meat, poultry and farm-raised fish, the Obama administration announced Monday. “Because of the drought, there are a lot of folks out there that are trying to sell meat right now,” Obama later told reporters while visiting the parched McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley.

“So, just like you might buy more chicken when it’s on sale and freeze it, we are going to stock up. Prices are low; farmers and ranchers need help; so it makes sense.”

After accusing Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, earlier Monday of blocking aid to farmers, the president reiterated that, "the best way to help these states is for Congress to act."

“They need to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty. But the folks suffering from this drought can’t wait for Congress to do its job. So in the meantime, I’ve made sure that my administration … is doing everything we can to provide relief to those who need it,” he said.

"This won’t solve the problem. We can’t make it rain," he said of the new aid. "But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa. And we’re going to keep doing what we can to help because that’s what we do. We are Americans. We take care of each other. And when our neighbors hit a rough patch, we step up and help out."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lotto Jackpot Deadline Passes as Crime Probe Starts

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- As the deadline to claim a $16 million Hot Lotto jackpot passed without a winner Friday, the Iowa attorney general's office launched a criminal investigation into the only person who tried to claim the prize.

"We wanted to pay the prize, we were more than prepared to pay the prize," lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said. "But we didn't think it was a responsible thing to do."

The jackpot disappeared as the clocked ticked past 4 p.m. ET, reverting to the Iowa state treasury. And instead of a celebration, the state began an investigation.

"We opened a criminal investigation to learn more," said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. "We have some questions about the circumstances of this ticket, and we're trying to determine who purchased it and how it was presented."

Officials had set the deadline hoping to award the prize to the sole claimant, Crawford Shaw, a New York-based attorney who signed the winning ticket. But Shaw refused to disclose how he got the ticket or who his client was.

Shaw said that the ticket and winnings belonged to the Hexham Family Trust, but misspelled the name on the ticket, writing "Hexam." Shaw said he could not disclose who his client was and only confirmed that the trust he represented was based in Belize.

The investigation will try to determine how Shaw became the owner of the winning lottery ticket, purchased in Des Moines, Iowa, in December 2010. The lottery has obtained a surveillance video of the man who purchased the ticket at a Des Moines, Iowa, convenience store, but would not release details about the video.

Iowa Lottery officials drew the winning numbers for the jackpot in December 2010, but the prize went unclaimed for close to a year despite heavy advertising by the lottery for the winner to come forward. With two hours to go until the prize would be forfeited in December 2011, two Iowa attorneys presented the winning ticket, signed by Shaw, at the lottery headquarters.

They also did not provide any explanation of how Shaw obtained the ticket.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iowa Lottery Winner Must Explain Mystery

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- A $16 million lottery jackpot in Iowa may be forfeited if the mystery winner fails to explain by Friday how he got the ticket.

The winning ticket in the December 2010 Hot Lotto drawing was purchased in a Des Moines convenience store, but nearly a year later a winner from New York came forward with a vague story, confusing lottery officials.

On Dec. 29, 2011, just two hours before the deadline for a winner to claim the jackpot, two Des Moines attorneys presented the winning ticket to the Iowa lottery office, saying it had arrived by Federal Express earlier that day. The ticket had come from a P.O. Box in Bedford, N.Y., and was signed by a man named Crawford Shaw, who represented the Hexham Investments Trust.

Lottery officials, however, couldn't understand how the Hexham Trust or Crawford Shaw got the ticket.

Additionally, Shaw wrote the name of the trust incorrectly on the ticket, spelling it "Hexam" instead of "Hexham." No contact information for Hexham Investments Trust could be located for this story, and a search for the company turned up no results. A company called "Hexam Capital" is located in Scotland and is an investment group geared toward investors in the United Kingdom.

"This was a really unusual situation. We've never seen it before. We were asking the attorneys what took so long and where has this ticket been, and they didn't know," said Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery.

Attorneys representing Crawford Shaw did not immediately return calls for comment. Shaw could not be reached for comment.

"Normally, when a winning ticket comes in, we find out who purchased it, and where the ticket has been, and we find all that out before announcing the winner," Neubaeur said.

She said the lottery has security procedures and rules to ensure that the ticket wasn't sold illegally after purchase or bought by someone prohibited from playing the Iowa Lottery, including lottery employees.

Since that day, she said, lottery officials have been asking the attorneys to explain two things: who purchased the ticket, and where the ticket went after initial purchase.

"There is security camera footage showing what's occurring in the store when ticket was purchased. So we want to follow the trail of possession from that individual to the folks who turned it in here a year later so we can ensure that there's been nothing amiss with the purchase and presentation of the ticket," Neubaeur said.

Numerous people have alleged that the ticket was stolen from them, claims which have to be discredited, in part, by the real winner's story, she explained.

"In order to address those claims we need to have basic information, and it hasn't been given to us. We keep asking, 'Why don't you have that information?' and the questions simply haven't been answered," she said.

Neubeauer noted that the man who signed the ticket, Crawford Shaw, is involved in criminal and bankruptcy proceedings in New York and Delaware, a fact which she said could turn out to be irrelevant, but needs to be looked into.

"We have never seen a situation like this in the 26 year history of our lottery. Usually the process of claiming a prize is pretty quick and pretty easy," she said.

If no one comes forward to satisfactorily explain the situation by Friday's 3 p.m. deadline, rules dictate that the lottery will be forfeited. Neubaeur acknowledged that legal claims to the prize could be a possibility, but said that the lottery rules are clear on the security measures necessary to award the prize.

Lottery officials have also been keeping the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations and the Attorney General's office informed of their investigation into the winner's claim, she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Protesters Camp at Obama Headquarters, Talk ‘Occupy Caucus’ Plans

(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- A small group of protesters camped out overnight Saturday in front of President Obama’s re-election headquarters in Iowa, demanding to speak with someone in the president’s campaign office and air their concerns, vowing to stay planted in front of the office through the harsh Iowa winter.

There were about 10 protesters this morning sitting outside two tents surrounded by mostly anti-war and anti-capitalism signs, including one plastered on the front door of the Organizing for America office that read “Obama’s Former Headquarters.”

The protesters say about 11 people slept in front of the campaign office overnight, where the temperature was in the high 20s.

Jessica Reznicek, a member of Occupy Des Moines who also spent time in New York City’s Zuccotti Park as an Occupy Wall Street protestor, said they have “two demands” that they want met by the president.

“We ask that number one they cut the U.S. military budget in half and number two he dismantle the U.S. military empire,” Reznicek told ABC News. “When we arrived yesterday the business was shut down and nobody was in there and we made a vow to occupy until our demands were addressed, so here we stand.”

Ben Finkenbinder, Obama campaign spokesman for Iowa, told ABC News the campaign declines to comment.

Reznicek says the group understands they may be arrested, but have no plans to move.

She also runs the Occupy Des Moines off-shoot Occupy the Caucuses and said they have big plans for the week leading up to the Iowa caucuses, although she did say, “We have absolutely no plans of disrupting the grassroots caucusing process” on the night of Jan. 3.

However, they are going to be active and Reznicek has been reaching out to Occupy groups all over the country. She said she expects between 500 to 700 people will be here that week with many of them traveling to Des Moines, but added there could be more. She said she has been in touch with Occupy groups in New York, Chicago, Wisconsin, Kansas, Omaha, Neb., and Minneapolis.

According to Reznicek, on Dec. 26, Occupy protesters from all over the country will arrive in Des Moines. The following day they will be trained in “acts of non-violent civil disobedience.”

Different groups will also form that day and protesters will decide which of the presidential candidates, including Obama, they want to “target with their grievances.”

The groups will then take that list of grievances to all the campaign headquarters on Dec. 28, 29 and 30, and protest or “occupy” them “until those demands are met.”

Joseph Glazebrook, an attorney for several of the protesters, said that although he was an Obama supporter last cycle, they chose to camp out at the president’s re-election headquarters instead of one of the GOP candidates because “if we only focus on one part of the problem we are never going to change anything. We have to focus on the whole problem, which includes the president.”

Occupy Des Moines protested last month at Herman Cain’s headquarters when he was still in the race, and at a Mitt Romney adviser’s office before Romney’s campaign opened a headquarters. They also protested a Chris Christie event at Romney’s headquarters in Iowa, interrupting the New Jersey governor when he was stumping for the former Massachusetts governor earlier this month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich In For Trump Debate – ‘Apprentice: The Presidency’

Mike Stobe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich is ready to participate in what he calls, “Apprentice: The Presidency” with Donald Trump.

Donald Trump will moderate a debate hosted by conservative magazine Newsmax in Des Moines, Iowa on Dec. 27. Gingrich is the only candidate to officially announce his participation so far. Both Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman declined.

“How could you turn down the Donald?” Gingrich said.

Gingrich said that while he enjoys debating, for him it’s about the entertainment.

“I would want to go just for the entertainment value. I can’t imagine [what] a debate hosted by Donald Trump will be like,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich plans to meet with Trump on Monday as several other candidates have already done. Gingrich said the meeting with Trump was already planned before the announcement of the debate last week.

Gingrich said he is “perfectly happy” to go to the debate since he will already be in town.

“It’s going to be in Iowa so it makes a lot of sense because we’re going to be in Iowa by that point,” Gingrich said. “In all seriousness, Trump is a unique American character. It would be like if Bill Gates called and said I’d like to host a debate.”

Gingrich will meet with Trump on Monday in New York City.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Bus Made in America? Not Entirely

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At his rural economic forum in Iowa Tuesday, President Obama exhorted the need to boost the manufacturing and export of U.S. cars and trucks to create jobs.

"We've got folks in America driving Kias and Hyundais. I want to see folks in Korea driving Fords and Chryslers and Chevys," Obama said, drawing applause.

"I want to sell goods all over the world that are stamped with three words: 'Made in America.'"

But it turns out the president's new custom motor coach comes stamped with a brand that's located someplace else: Canada.

The $1.1 million jet-black rumbling bus that has been carrying Obama through the Midwest this week was designed in part by Prevost, a motor coach manufacturer based in Quebec. The New York Post was first to report this, and Provost officials confirmed this fact to ABC News.

"We just build an empty shell of a bus, and then sell them to a converter for outfitting," Prevost's Steve Zeigler told ABC News.

The U.S. Secret Service said it purchased the vehicle from Hemphill Brothers Coach Co., which is based in Nashville, Tenn.

Hemphill, which declined to discuss the presidential bus or its business generally, assembles custom motor coaches and customizes the interiors before selling the finished product directly to individuals, businesses or the government.

"We just make the shell. We don't know anything about the end user," said Christine Garant of Prevost.

Several industry sources speculated that Hemphill may have installed an American-made engine, such as a Detroit Diesel, in the presidential bus, though that could not be immediately confirmed.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the agency based its purchase on bus design, looking for the coach with the most available space to accommodate state-of-the-art custom security modifications.

The service acquired two of the new campaign-style buses last year as additions to the government's protective fleet. Could the government have purchased a bus that was made entirely, or almost entirely, in America? In theory, yes.

The only U.S.-headquartered coach manufacturer, Motor Coach Industries, based in Schamburg, Ill., also builds the country's only "buy American compliant" coach, the majority of whose parts are made here, an MCI spokeswoman said. It's unclear whether the Secret Service considered this option.

The current presidential limousine, nicknamed "The Beast," was made by Cadillac, a General Motors Corp. brand, in 2009. The vehicle, however, is not any model available to the public, and has been extensively retrofitted with performance, security, and other enhancements.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Announce New Jobs Initiatives at Iowa Forum

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa, Tuesday, President Obama will announce four new economic initiatives that the administration says will spur growth and help create jobs.
The Small Business Administration will double the amount of investment capital funneled to rural businesses through its Small Business Investment Company program. The total capital infusion will be $350 million over the next five years, officials say.
The administration will sponsor and host “conferences” to help connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups. And they’ll use “marketing teams” to go out and pitch federal grant money to private investors.
The USDA will allow citizens to access Labor Department job search information at its 2,800 field offices nationwide.
HHS will modify the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program to allow more than 1,300 small, rural hospitals to recruit new physicians. (The White House estimates that the addition of one new primary care physician in a rural community generates $1.5 million in annual revenue and creates 23 jobs annually.)
Officials say all of the initiatives, which come at no additional cost to taxpayers, will create a “pretty significant” number of jobs, but they declined to specify an estimate for how many.
“Half of the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of every three private sector jobs are created by small business,” said SBA administrator Karen Mills. “This is intensely true in rural areas. Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas.”
Mills said the additional capital funding leveraged through the agency’s programs will target “hard-hit, underserved” areas and that all small businesses will be eligible.
“You’re going to get a pretty good bang for the taxpayer buck,” Mills said. “Do not be fooled by the numbers. What you’re going to have is a lot of money that goes a very long way, that multiplies in these funds.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added his optimism for increased job creation through the new initiatives.
“There is nothing small bore about this effort that the president has instituted and started in rural America,” Vilsack said when asked to quantify their projected impact.  “I would be willing to say these announcements’re looking at a number that’s pretty significant.”    

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry: ‘Almost Treasonous’ for Feds to Print More Money Pre-Election

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry capped off his first full day of campaigning in Iowa Monday by suggesting that if the Federal Reserve prints more money between now and November 2012 it would be akin to an act of treason.

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election,” Perry said, “I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we -- we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous in my opinion.”

He added, “We’ve already tried this. All it’s going to be doing is devaluing the dollar in your pocket and we cannot afford that. We have to learn the lessons of the past three years that they’ve been devastating. The President of the United States has conducted an experiment on the American economy for almost the last three years, and it has gone tragically wrong and we need to send him a clear message in November of 2012 that new leadership is coming.”

Perry, who officially entered the presidential race on Saturday, was responding to a question from a member of the audience at a backyard county Republican Party fundraiser who asked him what he would do with the Federal Reserve.

Perry initially said, “I’ll take a pass on the Federal Reserve right at the moment to be real honest with you,” before launching into his more pointed answer.

When asked in a follow-up interview whether Perry thought that the Federal Reserve was playing politics to try to help President Obama, he replied, “If they print more money between now and this election, I would suggest that’s exactly what’s going on.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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