Nate Boulton suspends campaign after allegations of sexual misconduct


Devyn Leeson/Iowa State Daily

Nate Boulton talks to a crowd of Ames voters at a meet and greet on May 20.

Devyn Leeson, Emily Berch, and K. Rambo

Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nate Boulton has announced the suspension of his campaign on Thursday morning in an official statement after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced on Wednesday.

Boulton is currently a sitting state senator from Des Moines, and his fate in the Iowa Senate has yet to be decided.

The three women accuse Boulton of touching them inappropriately without consent. Two of the incidents happened during his time at Drake Law school, which he graduated from in 2005, the most recent case happened in 2015.

Sharon Wegner of Des Moines, attorney Jessica Millage of Des Moines and a third woman, who requested to remain unnamed for fear of retaliation in the workplace, told The Des Moines Register Boulton had subjected them to sexual harassment.

Millage told The Des Moines Register that Boulton repeatedly rubbed his clothed crotch on her during social gatherings while in law school at Drake, while Wegner accused Boulton of grabbing her buttocks and pressured her into a corner in 2015.

The unnamed woman shared a similar account to that of Millage, according to The Des Moines Register.

“These last 48 hours have been trying,” Boulton said in a statement released Thursday morning announcing the suspension of his campaign. “I again offer an apology to those whom I have harmed in any way. It is my hope there is some positive that can come from this moment as we strive to be the better people we can be in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. I know that will be my task moving on from here.”

The allegations were revealed in a Des Moines Register article in which Boulton was interviewed.

The Boulton campaign released an initial statement on Wednesday about the allegations attempting to distance himself from recent scandals in the Iowa Statehouse.

“Nate Boulton’s behavior in the social settings referenced in the article, as described by women who were social peers, in no way equates to the disgraceful actions taken by men across the country and in the Iowa Statehouse who have assaulted, harassed, and threatened women with workplace consequences,” Boulton said in a press release. “These are not assertions that he used positions of power, threatened retaliation or reprisal, or that he was in any position to do so.

“These are situations outside the employment context and were prior to holding public office. Still, this is a lesson to all young men to be respectful and aware of their actions toward women and how those actions may make women feel regardless of the settings or context, and take responsibility for any actions that have offended others.”

Boulton initially told The Des Moines Register he would not be making changes to his campaign for governor; recent polls had him 11 points behind the front-runner Fred Hubbell with just 13 days left before the primary.

“I think I owe it to those people who have supported me to have that vision tested at the ballot box,” Boulton said.

One of Boulton’s primary opponents, Cathy Glasson, released a statement following the allegations.

“These reports of sexual misconduct about Sen. Boulton today are extremely disturbing,” said Glasson. “We need a Governor we can trust to stand up and fight for fair treatment for Iowa women. Nate Boulton’s behavior disqualifies him from leading our state government.”

Andy McGuire, another primary opponent, commented without naming Boulton.

“As I have stated from the beginning of my campaign, sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind should not and cannot be tolerated. Period.”

Democratic Candidate John Norris also released a statement.

“Let me be very clear, there is no place for sexual misconduct or harassment in politics or anywhere else. This behavior is unacceptable and intolerable no matter where it takes place. My heart goes out to the women who endured this behavior and I applaud their bravery in coming forward, and every woman who has come forward in the Me Too movement before them.”

Other groups, like College and Young Democrats of Iowa, have come forward saying he should resign from both his Senate seat and from the race for Governor.

“CYDI takes the recent allegations against Nate Boulton seriously, and believe it is our duty to respond with appropriate action,” said CYDI in their statement. “We therefore call for his immediate withdrawal from the gubernatorial election, and resignation from the Iowa Senate.”

The Iowa State Daily has reached out to Sen. Boulton, Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, who endorsed Boulton and Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, who is the Senate minority leader and a Boulton supporter, but has no new information at this time.