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Iowa Sec. of State says emails between him and Santorum don’t imply connection to Huntsman

State Republican leaders are staying mum in the wake of the release of emails between Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and an operative effort backing GOP candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn).

E-mails obtained and disseminated by the political blog “Under The Golden Dome” indicate an email between Thomas Schultz, who operates the “Draft Santorum” effort, and Matt Schultz, was sent to the Secretary of State for the purpose of being published on the public website.

The June 5th email has the subject line: “Draft OPEC to go out tomorrow what do you think?” The draft was a critical message to GOP candidate and former Utah Gov. and China Ambassador Jon Huntsman.

Thomas Schultz and Matt Schultz are brothers. Thomas Schultz, who helped run Matt Schultz’s Secretary of State campaign last year, created the “Draft Santorum” effort in college, but it is not a part of the Senator’s official campaign.

Top Republican leaders aren’t eager to comment. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad declined to comment on the situation Tuesday morning through his spokesman. Matt Strawn, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, also told The Iowa Independent Tuesday he had no comment on the situation.

Matt Schultz’s office, however, called the situation “amusing” and said the e-mail does not represent a connection between Santorum’s and Huntsman’s competing campaigns.

“Thomas Schultz doesn’t work for Santorum. He has no role that is paid or unpaid in his campaign,” Erin Rapp, Matt Schultz’s communications director said. “He values his older brother’s opinion, and they talk often.”

“It is incredibly inappropriate for Secretary of State Schultz to attack a candidate and even more troubling that he did so under the advice of a political operative for an opposing campaign,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said yesterday. Dvorsky filed a complaint against Schultz’s office to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure board June 9, saying it was unethical for Schultz to use his office to either back or denounce a candidate.

“I urge the Ethics Board to continue their review of our complaint against Secretary Schultz, taking this evidence into account. The politicization of the Secretary of State’s office is inappropriate and should end immediately,” Dvorsky said.

Matt Schultz published the press release on the Secretary of State’s website June 6, the day after the e-mails were exchanged. In it, he criticized Huntsman’s decision to not to compete in Iowa due to his anti-ethanol stance. Huntsman reasoned to the Associated Press that his beliefs would not play well in a state where ethanol is king.

“Apparently, Huntsman believes that he will not get a fair shake in Iowa because he opposes ethanol subsidies,” Schultz said in the release. “In my opinion, this excuse seems to have as much credibility as ‘the dog ate my homework.’ If Mr. Huntsman refuses to compete in a bellwether state like Iowa, he is not ready for the big dance.”

The press release is still on the Secretary of State website.

“(Matt Schultz) believed he was defending the caucuses,” Rapp said. “We were upfront. IDP just took it and it exploded from there.”

Other Republican lawmakers and activists, including U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and The Family Leader CEO

Bob Vander Plaats, expressed disdain toward Huntsman’s decision to skip Iowa, but such comments were made in interviews with reporters.

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