Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse and political correspondent in 2012 and started hosting IPR’s Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network. 

Clay continues to report on a wide variety of topics including politics, health and the environment. He’s also a regular music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways To Connect

Clay Masters / IPR

  New figures from Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship show 1,800 Iowa farmers have taken advantage of $3.5 million in state money meant to reduce pollutants from their fields. The state’s largest water utility says the figures divert attention from Iowa’s slide toward accepting environmental mediocrity.

John Pemble / IPR

While traveling in Iowa this week, Republican Presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been critical of an upcoming White House visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has a longtime friendship with the Chinese leader which makes for a unique situation for the G-O-P candidate who’s investing a lot of his campaign time in Iowa.

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Iowa Department of Human Services announced four private companies that will manage the services of Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid program. Des Moines Register Newspaper Investigative Reporter Jason Clayworth took a look at some of the past problems that each of the four firms have faced in the

“What we found was for each of them was a series of deep problems with either mismanagement or fraud,” Clayworth says. “Some of them resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in fines or settlements paid.”

Joyce Russell/IPR file

Florida Senator Marco Rubio spoke to a rain soaked audience at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday.  The Republican presidential candidate kept his appearance on the Des Moines Register Soapbox state brief because of the weather. Rubio used just half his allotted time of 20 minutes. He stuck to his standard stump speech including the story about his Cuban immigrant parents and their work ethic.

John Pemble / IPR

 CM: Governor, you’ve been spending a lot of time in Iowa, even before you initially announced that you were running for president. All this time here, two to three words, how do you describe Iowa?

SW: A lot like Wisconsin.

CM: That’s four words, but we’ll take it, I guess. You said in the debate during your campaign for reelection that you would do four years as governor. What made you change your mind to decide to get into the race?

John Pemble/IPR

Two more Republican presidential hopefuls spoke to Iowa State Fair crowds this morning.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took on members of a Wisconsin labor union, while former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina chose to use nearly all of her allotted 20-minutes taking questions from the crowd.

During Walker’s speech on the Des Moines Register Soapbox stage, members of a Wisconsin labor union began heckling the Wisconsin Governor who’s known for stripping bargaining rights from state employees. Walker told the protesters he’s not intimidated by them.

Clay Masters / IPR

CM: You’ve been spending a lot of time in Iowa recently, making a lot of weekend trips. Tell me what are two to three words that you would use to describe Iowa?

HC: Open, committed, and beautiful.

CM: Plain and simple?

HC: Yea, absolutely.

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump made a campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair Saturday. Trump passed on a popular state fair candidate event and instead gave kids a ride on his helicopter before walking around the fairState Fair officials told Donald Trump he could not land his helicopter on the Iowa State fairgrounds, so he did it less than a mile away and flew kids over the fair. He also spoke to reporters and says his brain has built a great business and will be good for the country.

Morgan / Flickr

A third patient has died since being transferred to a private nursing home from the shuttered state mental institution in Clarinda. The news comes as the state’s department of Human Services provided an update on the state’s mental health redesign.

A third patient has died since being transferred to a private nursing home from the shuttered state mental institution in Clarinda. That news came as the state’s Department of Human Services provided an update on the state’s mental health redesign.

Many of the Republican presidential candidates have a hefty goal in Iowa ahead of its first-in-nation caucuses: make a campaign stop in all of the state's 99 counties. Along the way, presidential hopefuls are turning to the Iowa-based restaurant chain Pizza Ranch, whose ubiquity and inexpensive cuisine have made it a staple of the caucus campaign trail.

Clay Masters / IPR

  

Brenda Hummel's 7-year-old daughter Andrea was born with severe epilepsy. Like many children with significant diseases or disabilities, she has health insurance through Medicaid. Hummel navigated Iowa's Medicaid resources for years to find just the right doctors and care for her daughter. But now Iowa's governor, Republican Terry Branstad, is moving full speed ahead with a plan to put private companies in charge of managing Medicaid's services, and that has Hummel worried.

Iowa Public Radio / Clay Masters

CLAY MASTERS: Last October we brought you the story of $3 million worth of illegal construction productions at one of the nation’s most sacred Native American burial grounds. And it happened under the watch of the National Park Service.

Now this we’re talking about is Effigy Mounds. It’s up in northeast Iowa. And new evidence shows that the National Park Service has covered up a report on the Effigy Mounds scandal.

Ryan Foley is with me. He’s a reporter with the Associated Press here in Iowa. Hello Ryan.

RYAN FOLEY: Hello Clay.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Clay Masters conducted this interview with Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley Friday, July 24th. Below is a partially transcribed interview.

M: How do you feel you're getting your name out there? Do you like feel you're connecting more, the more time you spend here?

Clay Masters / IPR

Plenty of presidential candidates campaigned in the state this weekend. They were in town for two major party events. There was the Family Leadership Summit in Ames on Saturday which attracts evangelical Republicans. And the state Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner was in Cedar Rapids on Friday.

Clay Masters / IPR

A new group, called Latino Political Network, aimed at increasing the number of Latinos running for elected office in Iowa holds its first meeting. Currently there are no Latino members of the Iowa legislature and this group wants to change that.

The organization was modeled after a similar Iowa group called 50/50 in 2020 that encourages women to run for elected office.

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was campaigning in Iowa Wednesday, two days after announcing he's running for the Republican party nomination for president. 

His campaign chose small towns for town-hall style meetings. In Washington, Iowa he took questions from the press including one about Pope Francis’ view that a revolution is needed to combat climate change.

Todd Dorman / The Gazette

Republican Party of Iowa leadership Friday morning voted unanimously to cancel the 2015 Iowa Straw Poll. 

The event, which had been scheduled for August 8 in Boone, had drawn commitments from only two Republican presidential hopefuls. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had already announced their intentions to skip the event, which included a presidential preference vote. 

"We set the table and the candidates weren't coming to supper," says Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann.

Clay Masters / IPR

Around the start of the new millennium, the eyes of the nation turned to Omaha, Neb., and bands like Bright Eyes and its label Saddle Creek Records. As it often does, the spotlight has flickered elsewhere in the search of what's next. But Omaha's music scene is still going strong: there are a number of new albums coming out this year with ties to the Midwestern city.

John Pemble / IPR

State lawmakers have gone home for the legislative session. It was another year of Republicans controlling the Iowa House and Democrats leading the Iowa Senate. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell one last time about the lengthy legislative session. 

Clay Masters / IPR

A herd of Republican presidential candidates spent some time in Iowa farm country this weekend. They were there for a fundraiser called Roast and Ride, a motorcycle ride and barbecue organized by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.

Ernst, a political newcomer, is making herself a force in presidential politics.

Clay Masters / IPR

Every four years, politicians and the reporters who cover them spend months in Iowa wooing voters ahead of the February caucuses. There's inevitably lots of photo ops with grain silos and corn fields in the background, not to mention interviews with weathered farmers who are supposed to stand in for the state's two million registered voters.

John Pemble/IPR

UPDATE:  6/1/2015 3:00 p.m. House Republicans and Senate Democrats released more details of the budget agreement reached last week.

JOINT TARGETS FY16

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination Saturday in Baltimore.

“So let me ask a question of Des Moines, Iowa,” shouted without a microphone to the packed crowd in a small campaign office just outside downtown Des Moines. “Are you ready to take your country forward!?”

O’Malley was once mayor of Baltimore; where recently the police killing of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man lead to riots. O’Malley says as mayor he drove police shootings down and improved community and police relations.

Clay Masters / IPR

Coventry Health Care is currently the only health insurance provider offering subsidized coverage through the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act in Iowa. The Urbandale-based company says it wants to raise rates to its customers by at least 18 percent.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart says Coventry likely took on more risk than they projected. He predicts rates will rise for current policyholders who have purchased the subsidized coverage through Healthcare.gov

Photo Courtesy of Rick Fredericksen

The Iowa Public Radio series Iowa Archives turns 8 this year and the project's producer, IPR's Rick Fredericksen, has tapped a lot of what's readily available and he's asking listeners for any old sound they might have. Fredericksen recaps some of Iowa Archive's highlights with Morning Edition Host Clay Masters. 

Fredericksen will host an hour special featuring the best of Iowa Archives music on Memorial Day at 10 a.m.  

If you have some audio Rick might find interesting, e-mail him at rfredericksen@iowapublicradio.org.

Photo by John Pemble

State lawmakers return to the capitol today for their third week of overtime, while the two parties remain divided over the state budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. 

Most of the work this week will be behind closed doors as the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s office strive toward a budget agreement. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R- Hiawatha) says House Republicans have not signed on to a tentative agreement on funding for K-12 schools.

John Pemble / IPR

The Annual Iowa Republican Lincoln Dinner is Saturday and with it comes another cattle call of Republican presidential hopefuls. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with Associated Press Politics and State Government Reporter Catherine Lucey about how this event differs from other Republican presidential gatherings in recent months. They also discuss Democratic presidential candidate and front-runner Hillary Clinton's upcoming trip to the state.

John Pemble / IPR

Week after week it’s looked like no compromise was in sight between the state’s Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican majority House over K-12 funding, but a tentative agreement looks promising that lawmakers have figured out how much to fund schools for the coming year. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to preview the week ahead at the Iowa capitol. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Recently announced Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is campaigning in Iowa Thursday. She’s one of a number of GOP candidates who have officially announced they’re running for president this week to swing through the first-in-the-nation caucus state. 

Former Arkansas Governor and winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses Mike Huckabee wrapped up an early swing through the state on Wednesday night in a barn at Living History Farms in Urbandale.

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