Republicans in Iowa are using a dispute between neighbors to question the character of the state’s Democratic Senate hopeful, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley. The political squabble stems from Braley’s personal crusade against a set of marauding chickens.
Pauline Hampton, Braley’s neighbor on Holiday Lake in Brooklyn, Iowa, owns chickens that she uses as therapy animals for children with mental health issues, the Quad City Times reports. At some point during the spring, some of the chickens wandered onto Braley’s property – a development that escaped Hampton’s notice until she attempted to drop off some eggs at their front door.
Braley’s wife, Carolyn, declined the eggs. “We aren’t going to accept your eggs – and we have filed a formal complaint against you,” she said, according to the Washington Post. The Braleys filed a complaint with the local neighborhood homeowners association board in May. Eventually, the board ruled that Hampton’s chickens had to be penned up.
In an email obtained by the Iowa Republican, a conservative news outlet, the homeowners association's board lawyer, Thomas Lacina, described his interaction with Braley, who purportedly said that “chickens are not pets and should not be permitted at Holiday Lake.” Braley went on to say that he hoped to “avoid a litigious situation.”
A spokesperson for Braley said that the Democratic candidate never planned to file a lawsuit related to the chicken dispute. Still, local Republicans seized upon the situation as evidence that Braley lacks proper values. “A true Iowan would have just talked to his neighbors, but not trial lawyer Bruce Braley,” American Crossroads, a Republican Super PAC formed by Karl Rove, said in a campaign ad.
Braley’s representatives dismissed the debate around the chicken dispute as a Republican smear campaign. “The wild claims made in this Karl Rove smear video are simply false,” spokesperson Jeff Giertz said, according to the Quad City Times.
Iowa’s 2014 United States Senate election will take place on Nov. 4. Braley will face Republican challenger and Iowa Senate member Joni Ernst.