Democratic Iowa Senate candidate and current House member Bruce Braley has a vacation house on Holiday Lake, a resort community about 40 miles from Cedar Rapids.
This spring, Pauline Hampton, one of Braley’s Holiday Lake neighbors, stopped by his second home to offer a dozen fresh, organic eggs produced by her prize chickens.
That’s when things went horribly wrong, reports The Washington Post.
Braley’s wife, Carolyn, answered the door. According to Hampton, Carolyn Braley responded to the gracious egg offer by saying, “We aren’t going to accept your eggs — and we have filed a formal complaint against you.”
The threatening comment, it turned out, arose because Hampton’s chickens had previously rambled onto the Braleys’ coveted lake property. The Senate candidate and his wife did not like it. Not one bit.
Had either of the Braleys ever walked over to Hampton’s home to discuss their annoyance with the wandering chickens?
Of course not.
Instead, on May 8, Braley and his wife then publicly voiced their beef with the chickens at the board meeting of the homeowners’ association. For their next move, the Senate candidate contacted the association lawyer, Thomas Lacina, to declare that chickens should be outlawed from the serene, rural, sprawling 755-acre resort community in the farming state.
“Chickens are not pets and should not be permitted at Holiday Lake,” Braley, a rich, liberal trial lawyer, wrote in an email to Lacina. He added that he hoped to “avoid a litigious situation.”
Braley has insisted that he made no threat to sue despite the direct reference to a possible lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Hampton, a registered Democrat and an Air Force veteran, put up a wire fence on her property to keep her chickens cooped.
While the chicken challenge is over for Hampton, it has festered for Braley and added to his growing image problem across the state.
The Democrat has responded by insisting that he handled the property squabble perfectly well.
“At no time did I ever — ever — threaten a lawsuit or threaten litigation. Never,” he told the Post. “And anybody who says that I did is not being truthful.”
He characterized the quarrel as “a personal dispute between my wife and a neighbor because chickens were on our property all the time.”
Braley also suggested that he is a victim of a conspiracy.
“I just reached out to somebody I knew expecting to get a phone call back and instead this thing blows up,” he told the Post. “And I think it’s obvious why, because people who don’t want me to be the next senator from Iowa will stop at nothing to try to drag my family through the mud.”