Mason City – NorthIowaToday.com has learned that recent efforts by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robin Anderson to dis-include the Mason City district representative of Congressman Steve King from a planned trip to Washington, DC resulted in Mr. King’s office countermanding Anderson’s heavy-handed power play.
Merlin Bartz, the former Iowa state Senator who lost re-election last fall, was hired by the Congressman in December to manage his Mason City district office. As plans were underway for the Chamber’s annual mecca to the nation’s capital, Anderson, in her capacity as Executive Director, told members of her board of directors that she planned to break with precedent and not invite Mr. Bartz to join the group. For years now, dating back to when Mason City was represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Fred Grandy, Jim Nussle, and Tom Latham, the district representatives of those Congressmen went along for the four-day festivities, which are ostensibly to help gain favor with the Iowa Congressional delegation.
“For whatever reason,” a source close to the Mason City Chamber told NIT, “Robin decided that Merlin shouldn’t” make the trip to DC. Anderson has something of a history of dis-including people that she doesn’t think are worthy of making the cut. On at least two occasions when Max Weaver was the at-large City Councilman for Mason City, Robin Anderson publicly stated that Weaver would “never” be “allowed” to make such trips, as long as she ran the Chamber.
However, when Congressman King’s office in Washington, DC learned of this edict, it quickly got reversed. According to our source, who deals with the Chamber on a regular basis, “someone from King’s office told Robin that the Congressman wanted Bartz to accompany the Chamber members to Washington. Robin wasn’t exactly thrilled to find out that she’s not as all-powerful as she wants people to think she is. As things stand, Bartz will be on that plane.”
Mr. Bartz said last week that he is not allowed to comment on the matter.
Robin Anderson refused to take 4 phone calls and didnot return detailed messages asking about her attempt to keep Bartz out of the trip.
NorthIowaToday.com Publisher Matt Marquardt caught up with Anderson at the grand opening of Congressman Steve King’s Mason City office and attempted to question Anderson: