MASON CITY – NIT can now unequivocally report that a trusted Kuhn family confidant told Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer that he was not welcome at Alex Kuhn’s visitation and funeral.
NIT can also report that Eric Bookmeyer was conspicuously absent from Alex’s visitation. However, he did show his face at Alex’s funeral, but did not go to the grave site nor the luncheon, afterward.
How can this be. What actions by Eric Bookmeyer would lead a family to do this? And how could a man slap a good family in the face as they endured a horrible tragedy and go against their wishes? As our readers are beginning to see, there was circumstance, tragedy and perhaps a very sinister element that lead to the death of Alex Kuhn.
Make no mistake; Alex Kuhn will always be a hero to thousands of North Iowans. He was a troubled man of high virtue; he was our JFK. Many say he was one of the nicest persons they ever met. He worked tirelessly to make Mason City a better place for all of us and his little ones. NIT predicts Alex Kuhn will be a legend here and will never be forgotten.
NIT has learned he was even more than that. Despite the prospect of tremendous financial gain through his position at Henkel construction company, and beating back withering, despicable pressure from BULLIES, Alex Kuhn said NO to a quarter-billion-dollar pig slaughterhouse that was turned away. He voted NO first, and never relented. He put the people of Mason City and North Iowa above greed, self gain, and, perhaps fatally, people who were once his friends, peers and allies who viciously turned on him in his final days and weeks.
Now you may be asking yourself, and rightfully so, how did NIT come to possess these facts, that Alex was bullied in his final time alive on this earth and the Kuhn family attempted to keep Eric Bookmeyer away from their son/brother’s visitation and funeral?
Ever since the shocking news of Alex’s death was relayed to NIT on the early afternoon of Friday, July 15, numerous persons have brought information forward here. Much of this information ebbed on a few common themes: Depression, bullying, Eric Bookmeyer, his ban from Alex’s visitation and funeral, and of paramount importance in potentially getting answers, a man named Todd Blodgett.
Todd Blodgett possesses what Globe-Gazette reporter John Skipper calls “an amazing mental storehouse of facts”. Repeatedly, those in contact with NIT mentioned Mr. Blodgett’s name as someone who could provide answers in this tragedy.
NorthIowaToday.com has learned that Mr. Blodgett, a very conservative Republican, and Kuhn, a liberal Democrat, had forged a deep personal friendship that began even before Kuhn was first elected in 2011. Apparently, these two political opposites, both from prominent, wealthy, second-generation, influential north Iowa families, were, in fact, very close friends who were steadily working to further Kuhn’s political goals. One source explained to NIT that “Todd tried to help Alex deal with the sort of pressures that he, himself, had gone through and which laid him low. Being from a prominent, well-off, influential family that’s headed by a successful, respected over-achieving father who sets the bar very high, can be really tough.”
NIT interviewed a Mason Cityan who knew Alex Kuhn well, who told us she’s also a good friend of Todd Blodgett’s. According to her, Mr. Blodgett and Alex Kuhn had much more in common besides being completely obsessed with politics.
“Todd’s wife left him, and Alex and his wife also were divorced. He had a drinking problem, as did Todd. But the similarities don’t end there. Alex absolutely idolized Mark (Kuhn), just as Todd really admires his dad. Alex was well known to people he wasn’t personally acquainted
Evidently, according to a source very close to Mr. Blodgett, he “had big plans for Alex. They disagreed on just about everything, but the two of them just hit it off. Alex respected Todd’s abilities and trusted him. I think Todd regarded Alex as sort of like a little brother, or maybe even like a son. I wouldn’t be surprised if Todd knows exactly who did what to Alex, and how its effect on him led to what happened. But good luck getting him to talk. I saw Todd at Alex’s visitation, and he was devastated.”
In an eloquent eulogy to Kuhn, former U. S. Senator Tom Harkin said, “outward appearances of serenity may well mask an inner torment of the soul.” Was Harkin’s description of his former staffer, Mr. Kuhn, accurate? The answer to that question seems to be yes. Seeking more insight into what tormented Alex, NIT thought of Mr. Blodgett. NIT has had some brief conversations with him in the past, and seeking verification of information flowing to the newsroom in connection to Alex and his final days, reached out to him Sunday afternoon, July 24th.
Mr. Blodgett, who was at his home in Clear Lake when he took the call and obviously despondent about Alex’s death, initially refused comment or to elaborate on questions posed to him.
However, after a long, unpleasant pause, perhaps gathering it all in and realizing the gravity of the matter, Mr. Blodgett told NIT that, “It was clear to me that the Kuhns didn’t want the mayor present.
“So I called Eric,” he explained. “We had what I thought was a confidential conversation. Obviously, it didn’t stay that way. Anyway, I told him it would be best for everyone concerned if he stayed away from the visitation and the funeral. I also told him that if he chose to attend, he needed to keep his distance from Alex’s family. This reflected what I knew to be the wishes of Alex’s parents and brother. They told me they appreciated the call I made, and the sentiments I expressed to Eric, and the fact that he didn’t make any effort to talk with them.”
Additionally, Mr. Blodgett was asked if claims that Eric Bookmeyer, Mason City Council member Travis Hickey, and several top Henkel Executives, along with members of the North Iowa Corridor, and leaders of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce, and others, were merciless to Alex Kuhn in the aftermath of his successful opposition to the hog plant proposal involving Prestage Farms, up until the time of his tragic death.
“I’ve definitely heard that, yes,” he said. “I don’t think anyone who shunned Alex knew just how saddened he became over what he viewed as personal abuse, even betrayals, over this. He told me he felt like even some of his friends were “piling on” – in some cases, in what he described as nasty ways. He was incapable of holding grudges, or ever being mean. Alex never treated anybody as he told me some people had done to him. It was very hard for him to even process the idea that those he considered to be his friends could be like that. Not just to him, but to anyone. In the end, Alex Kuhn was simply too decent, too humane, too kind, and too genuinely good to be in politics.”
After a brief pause, Mr. Blodgett added, “That’s all I have to say”, and hung up.
Stay tuned to NIT for an impending update to this story.