Iowa GOP Lawmaker: Rick Perry's Involvement With Bakken Fracked Oil Pipeline 'A Bad Idea'

03/05/2015 12:21 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2015

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

By David Goodner and Steve Horn 

Everyday Iowa voters are less likely to caucus for former Texas governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry "because of his involvement" with a controversial oil pipeline proposal, according to an influential state lawmaker who has made eminent domain one of his signature issues in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Bobby Kaufmann Rick Perry

Photo Credit: Iowa House Republicans

"Politically speaking, I am not sure there is as much upside for him to be involved as there is downside," Iowa state representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) told DeSmogBlog. "People would likely not vote for him for being involved with the pipeline." 

Last month, DeSmogBlog broke news that Perry's appointment to the Board of Directors of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) could cost him support in the Iowa Caucuses. Energy Transfer Partners is a Texas-based company whose subsidiary, Dakota Access, LLC, has petitioned the state of Iowa to build a pipeline to transport up to 575,000 barrels per day of oil obtained from North Dakota's Bakken Shale via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking")

Kaufmann's statement to DeSmogBlog marks the first public criticism of Perry on this issue by a sitting Republican lawmaker. It also comes on the heels of Perry's scheduled March 7 return to Iowa to speak at the Iowa Ag Summit alongside other likely Republican presidential candidates.

Kaufmann's remarks to DeSmogBlog also come in the aftermath of Iowa's paper of record, The Des Moines Register, releasing a poll finding that 74 percent of Iowans are opposed to the use of eminent domain to build the pipeline.

"I think any presidential candidate's association with eminent domain could be unhelpful" to them in the Iowa Caucuses, Kaufmann said. 

Signing on "a bad idea"

Kaufmann is widely seen in Iowa as a rising young star in the Republican Party.

He is most closely identified with the libertarian wing of the Party, but he took $1,500 in campaign contributions last year from Perry's political action committee (RickPAC). Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, serves on the RickPAC Advisory Board. Perry also campaigned for Kaufmann last year. 

"If I get the chance to talk to Governor Perry I will be sure to let him know I think signing on with [Energy Transfer Partners] was a bad idea," Kaufmann stated via email.

Kaufmann's opposition to the proposed Bakken oil pipeline starts and stops with eminent domain, as the legislator has resisted taking a strong stance on climate change or the corrosive influence of big money in politics. 

"My concern is about eminent domain," he said. "I think both parties have a problem with big money in politics. Democrats enjoy high dollar donors just as much as Republicans do."

On the other side of the aisle, Iowa Democrats have largely stayed silent on the pipeline issue because the project is heavily backed by major labor unions.