We’re concerned Iowans who are tired of a handful of rabble-rousers who are attacking Iowa employers and who will try to kill our jobs. We’re funded by Iowans, and hopefully you can understand they want to remain anonymous because of the hardball tactics employed by ICCI and their friends. Some of these folks have criminal activity records and have harassed people at home.
ICCI Exposed is a website of Iowa Citizens for Truth, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. Contact us via email at [email protected].
Who Is ICCI?
ICCI is a radical group of activists supported by millions of dollars of left-wing money from outside the state of Iowa. Their leadership has a collective resume that includes arrests, communist teaching, trespassing, and a host of shady associates. Click on the leaders below to read their profiles.
The Radical Agenda
ICCI claims it works for “peace,” “justice,” and “community,” but in reality it acts like a lawless lynch mob. Its targets? Honest jobs and businesses in Iowa.
ICCI has protested new farm buildings. ICCI has protested new pipelines being constructed. ICCI has protested banks that make loans to low-income people.
“The behavior of Iowa CCI is unproductive, embarrassing, and has no place in a serious debate.
But despite the group’s association with populism, ICCI pushes for a number of policies that would ironically hurt many Iowans. ICCI pushes for a mandated $15 minimum wage, which economists across the political spectrum acknowledge would lead to jobs being cut. ICCI also pushes for bans on short-term, small-dollar loans—even though these loans are designed to provide money to those who can’t get it using traditional lending channels.
This anti-business, anti-jobs agenda comes from political extremism that has more in common with communism and socialism than in small business startups and capitalism that has built America. (In fact, ICCI member Larry Ginter has taught classes on the Communist Manifesto on his farm to members of the Young Socialists.)
“[W]e are encouraging the use of civil disobedience and mass arrest as a key tactic,” ICCI wrote in an August 2016 email about a protest of a multistate energy pipeline. This is just one of the more recent uses of extreme tactics to push its agenda. Low-lights include:
- ICCI has unabashedly protested at the personal homes of people it doesn’t like for years. In one instance, ICCI picketed the home of a political strategist’s ex-wife, even though he didn’t live there anymore. The protest reportedly drove his 9-year-old son to tears.
- ICCI board members and general members were arrested for trespassing at an “Occupy” movement event.
- In regards to a 2011 protest, ICCI head Hugh Espey noted, “there were eight people that were arrested at the Democratic headquarters. We support what those folks were doing.” When 28 people were arrested blocking roads to a worker area for the Dakota Access pipeline, ICCI called it “a beautiful day.”
ICCI is affiliated with the Chicago-based National People’s Action, a network of political extremist groups. NPA is infamous for protesting at people’s homes, something that ICCI has done as well: In 2014, 50 ICCI members in Boone County went to the home of a farm developer to protest.
“What kind of country do we live in where we now accept these sorts of actions?”
While politically far-left, ICCI’s methods are so extreme that have even been condemned by the Iowa Democratic Party. In 2011, then-Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky called ICCI’s tactics “unproductive and embarrassing,” and the Democratic state Attorney General has criticized ICCI as well. The president of the Iowa State Building and Trades, a union group, asked following word of ICCI holding “How-To-Be-Arrested” training, “What kind of country do we live in where we now accept these sorts of actions?”
ICCI has reportedly compared farmers to terrorists and child abusers. ICCI board member Garry Klicker told the Burlington Hawk Eye in 2002, “My feeling is if a farmer is raising hogs in a confinement, they probably need to be visited by DHS [the Iowa Department of Human Services] because they probably have kids in the closet.” Klicker added, “I personally have problems with farmers getting paid — they are like serfs.” And during a 2002 rally, an ICCI activist called a family hog farm operator a “terrorist,” likening him to Osama bin Laden. ICCI was also sued for defamation in 2003, eventually issuing a retraction for false statements it made about a pork farm.
Dakota Access Pipeline Protests
The shocking and lawless protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline unsurprisingly saw ICCI involvement. In late summer 2016, ICCI and Bold Iowa held “how-to-be-arrested” training in preparation for upcoming protests over the pipeline in which law-breaking was a tactic. The head of the Iowa State Building and Trades labor union declared his worry over the protests spreading into Iowa, writing, “This is more than just a sit-in; we’ve seen what kind of violence can result from these sorts of protests. People, including law enforcement, could be seriously hurt.”
He was prescient in these worries. Later, in North Dakota, one protester allegedly shot at police. (The attempted murder charges against her were dropped so that federal prosecutors could charge her with possession of a gun by a felon.)
The alleged attempted murder of police wasn’t the only claim that should shock the public’s conscience about the pipeline protests. Police arrested over 100 protesters in North Dakota, and activists threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at authorities and starting fires.
ICCI’s Reckless Encouragement of “Do What It Takes” Followed by Violence
In August, ICCI director Adam Mason levied a broad threat to take illegal action to protest the Bakken pipeline. “We see no other recourse but to do what it takes to start blockading construction,” he told media as ICCI offered training for protesters to be arrested for civil disobedience.
At the same time, ICCI downplayed the possibility of violence. In an op-ed written by Mason and Bold Iowa’s Ed Fallon on September 2, they pooh-poohed warnings about anti-pipeline violence coming to Iowa, writing, “to imply that alleged isolated incidents of violence (and yes, they are only alleged, not documented) by pipeline opponents in North Dakota suggests that violence will “come to Iowa” is unfair and illogical.”
Yet just weeks later violence did come to Iowa, as arsonists torched construction equipment, causing an estimated $2 million of damage. That followed an arson causing $1 million in damage that occurred in early August, even before ICCI’s dismissal of violence as “only alleged, not documented.”
Myths and Facts
ICCI makes a variety of sweeping, false claims about businesses it wants to shut down or hamstring. Given ICCI’s deplorable tactics, including protesting at people’s homes, it’s clear that the end justifies the means. Here are some myths spread by ICCI.
Myth: Pipelines are unsafe
Fact: The United States has a huge network of pipelines stretching 2.3 million miles that safely transports material every day. See this map for an idea of the scale. According to the US Department of Transportation, “pipeline systems are the safest means to move” products we use for energy.
Protesting one new pipeline is simply a ploy to raise funds and get media coverage. It doesn’t actually have an effect.
Myth: Farms have created a water/air crisis in Iowa.
Fact: This is not only illegal, but preposterous. Farmers drink water and breathe air, and the idea that they would harm air and water in their own communities is simply illogical. Farms are required by the Environmental Protection Agency and Iowa Department of Natural Resources to follow rules for proper waste and chemical management. State and federal agencies monitor to make sure the rules are enforced.
Iowa State University, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources collaborate on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is aimed at constant improvement, and the state has an extensive water quality monitoring system.
Myth: Farms can’t manage their manure.
Fact: Not only must farms abide by regulations for manure management, but manure is an important part of sustainable farming due to the benefits it offers the soil. Manure increases the amount of organic matter in the soil and improves soil health, according to Iowa State research. Manure use also reduces nutrient runoff by increasing the amount of water soil can hold.
25% of Iowa’s cropland is fertilized with manure. Manure provides nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. It’s no surprise then that manure helps boost crop yields.
Who Supports ICCI?
“Iowa” CCI is kept afloat by millions of dollars from political radicals who don’t live in Iowa. ICCI has received $5.5 million from out-of-state groups, including:
- Annie E. Casey Foundation (Baltimore, MD): $260,000
- Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint, MI): $870,000
- Educational Foundation of America (Fairfield, CT): $885,830 (also funds Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Earthjustice, Feminist Majority Foundation, various anti-energy groups such as the extremist Center for Biological Diversity)
- Ford Foundation (New York, NY): $575,000 (gives millions to Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and La Raza)
- McKnight Foundation (Minneapolis, MN): $490,000 (Climateworks, Energy Foundation, Nature Conservancy)
- Rockefeller Family Fund (New York, NY): $225,000
- Schmidt Family Foundation (Palo Alto, CA): $125,000 (NRDC, Sierra Club, UCS, FWW, Media Matters)
ICCI is part of the network of National People’s Action. Tied to the “Occupy” movement, NPA is a notoriously in-your-face group that has protested at the homes of people it doesn’t like. On one occasion, NPA demonstrators swarmed the suburban Washington D.C. home of a Bank of America lawyer and trespassed on his property. Not only was the man not home, but his son was—and reportedly barricaded himself in the bathroom. No doubt a makeshift panic room is warranted when a busload of angry lunatics shows up. NPA also banged on the windows of Karl Rove’s home in 2004, and attempted to protest at the home of then-Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao (who had moved).
Previously, NPA was known as the “National Training and Information Center.” NTIC’s executive director Joseph Mariano was sent to prison after he pleaded guilty to federal charges related to an illegal lobbying scheme. As part of his guilty plea, he admitted: “the defendant JOSEPH W. MARIANO [sic] knowingly and intentionally misapplied property worth at least $21,969.72 under the control of the NTIC, by converting these funds which were designated for specific grant related purposes and thereafter using those funds to pay expenses related to efforts to lobby members of the United States Congress in order to obtain additional funding for the NTIC.” NTIC settled a False Claims Act case with the Department of Justice for $550,000.
Frank Cordaro, former Catholic priest and leader of the social justice group Des Moines Catholic Workers (DMCW), is an ally of ICCI. Cordaro quit the priesthood in 2003 and, at the time, had served 44 months in prison for various protest activities spanning a 25-year “career” as a far-left activist.
There’s overlap between the antagonistic ICCI and the lower-key DMCW. Activists from the two groups are part of the same protest network. When David Goodner got a job at ICCI, he lived in one of the Des Moines Catholic Workers houses. Jessica Reznicek, ICCI member and accused arsonist, also lived at a DMCW house. The FBI raided the house in August 2017.
Nick T. Schutt is an ICCI activist from Alden, Iowa. In 2016, Schutt was arrested during a protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline protests featured a number of groups promoting illegal activity, and the pipeline’s owner has since sued a number of protest groups, which it bills “eco-terrorists,” under federal anti-racketeering laws.
Court records indicate that Schutt is twice divorced and has a host of traffic infractions on his record. Additionally, Prairie Land Cooperative took Schutt to small claims court in April 2004. AgVantage FS took Schutt to court in March 2014 for small claims.
Erica L. Blair is a community organizer with ICCI. Blair was the center of scrutiny when she contested the Master Matrix scoring for a planned farm site in Mitchell County, claiming that the farm’s score should have been lower. The Mitchell County attorney, in response, accused ICCI of misleading the county’s board of supervisors.
Blair was a participant in ICCI’s “civil disobedience” protests of the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. The pipeline protests, in which a number of radical groups and thousands of activists participated, lasted for months and became notorious for criminal activity including arson, Molotov cocktails, trespassing, and death threats.
Blair previously worked for The Salvage Barn and wrote for Little Village magazine, and received a certificate in sustainability from the University of Iowa.
Jessica Mazour is a community organizer with ICCI. Mazour was also affiliated with the “Occupy” movement, taking part in the group’s Des Moines offshoot. Like her comrades in the protest movement, Mazour has racked up an arrest record. According to court records, she was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct in 2012 (paying a fine after pleading guilty) and charged with blocking a highway in 2016.
Adam Mason serves as the state policy director for ICCI. Mason has been ICCI’s face during the months-long, multi-state, and incredibly lawless protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to Illinois. The protests included shots being fired at police officers, arson, and other illegal activity.
Mason himself encouraged law-breaking. In June 2016, the Cedar Rapids Gazette described Mason as “one of the organizers of a ‘broken heartland’ rally where protesters predicted a summer or resistance that would include chaining themselves to construction equipment, laying in the paths of bulldozers or other acts of defiance follow a state board decision Monday to allow building proceed along parts of the proposed route not currently in dispute.”
“We’re going to use every tactic we can to stop [the pipeline],” Mason promised.
In August, ICCI hosted how-to-get-arrested training for protesters. Mason told the press that they were upset that the Iowa Utilities Board granted a permit for construction to continue on the pipeline. “[B]ecause the I-U-B has failed to respond, we see no other recourse but to do what it takes to start blockading construction,” he told media.
It seems some protesters took “do what it takes” to an extreme. In the weeks following Mason’s comment, 141 pipeline protesters were arrested in North Dakota; a protestor shot a gun at police; and Molotovs, rocks, and bottles were thrown at police.
Mason also made the news in 2011, disrupting a speaking engagement by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich alongside ICCI and Occupy Des Moines activists. The Des Moines Register reported that Mason had to be restrained by security.
Jessica Reznicek is an admitted arsonist and ICCI member. In July 2017, Reznicek publicly admitted to using arson to attempt to sabotage the Dakota Access pipeline. Reznicek and a partner admitted they “used torches to cause damage up and down the pipeline throughout Iowa and into part of South Dakota” and “later returned to arson as a tactic, using tires and gasoline soaked rags to burn multiple valve sites and electric units, as well as heavy equipment located on pipeline easements throughout Iowa.”
In 2011, ICCI put out a statement bragging that Reznicek was among several ICCI members who had been arrested at a Wells Fargo protest. At the time, ICCI described her as an “unemployed worker.” In 2016, Reznicek was found guilty of criminal trespass after she broke two windows of a Northrop Grumman building near Omaha.
Hugh Espey is the executive director of ICCI and ringleader of its various circus acts. Espey was arrested at an “Occupy Des Moines” protest in Des Moines along with David Goodner.
Espey was also arrested in January 2017 during a four-hour sit-in protest at the Des Moines office of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. One hundred people reportedly showed up and refused to leave until they were forcibly removed.
In a 2003 interview with the Des Moines Register, Espey revealed ICCI’s escalation tactics: “If they take us seriously, fine. If they ignore us, we have to take that next step.” The paper recounted the subsequent protest at a lawmaker’s private home:
Senate President Kramer discovered the next step. She failed to respond to CCI’s calls and e-mails inviting her to its annual summer meeting. She was asked to discuss lawmakers’ rejection of CCI-backed air-pollution limits for livestock operations and other businesses. On July 12, CCI took more than 100 people to Kramer’s suburban house. They marched on her front sidewalk carrying a 32-by-40-inch mock citation that accused her of emitting “b.s.”
A man at Kramer’s home told the group the senator wasn’t home. Soon police arrived and asked the protesters to leave.
And if you do meet with ICCI? The Register notes that some lawmakers “agreed to meet with CCI privately, but the organization’s members kept one lawmaker from entering the room and turned the session into a shouting match, said House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp, R-Decorah.”
Goodner is a former ICCI activist who was also a member of the “Occupy” protests. Goodner was arrested in 2011 after refusing to stop trespassing on private property during a protest. He was arrested on various charges including possession of drug paraphernalia.
Goodner describes himself as a “small ‘s’ socialist.” The Houston Communist Party published one of Goodner’s screeds in 2014, which should tell you everything you need to know about his audience. He left ICCI to become a union organizer in Wisconsin.
Goodner was named in federal documents related to FBI surveillance of anarchist groups before the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Longtime ICCI member Larry Ginter is a retired hog farmer involved with the Socialist Workers Party in Iowa. According to the Socialists’ magazine The Militant, Ginter has taught classes on the Communist Manifesto on his farm to members of the Young Socialists. Ginter also participated in the “Militant Labor Forum” in Des Moines alongside a leader of the Socialist Workers Party, and invited the Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate to his farm. He has actively worked for the parole of convicted rapist and burglar Mark Curtis, another left-wing political activist. (ICCI board member John Blasingame was also apparently a reader of The Militant.)
Ginter was arrested at a 2012 Wells Fargo shareholder meeting.