Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter. He was part of a team of member station political reporters who covered the 2016 presidential race for NPR. He also covers environmental issues.

Clay joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse correspondent in 2012 and started hosting 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 Lincoln, Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network.

He’s also an occasional music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Clay Masters

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was back in Iowa Friday, making a couple of stops he says are about the midterm election. He was in Des Moines around midday, speaking at an event for a Democratic congressional candidate Pete D’Alessandro, who hopes to challenge Republican David Young in Iowa’s 3rd District.  D’Alessandro was Sanders’ top aide in the state during his campaign for the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Northwest Iowa is one of the safest places for Republicans in the country.

It's represented in the U.S. Congress by hardliner Steve King, who has a long history of controversial positions and comments.

But David Johnson also represents part of northwest Iowa. And while King might look to the White House and see a kindred spirit, Johnson calls Donald Trump's rhetoric "misogynistic," "race-baiting," and "bigoted."

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Taxes are getting a lot of attention at the statehouse and there were a few controversial bills that fell by the wayside last week and some that are moving forward. IPR's Joyce Russell reports on the week at the capitol. 

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa legislature seemed to get a lot of stuff done last week. There was a lot of debate over education funding and we appear to have an idea of what to expect in the coming school year. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell 

John Pemble / IPR

Education funding for Iowa’s public K-12 system takes center stage at the capitol this week. Lawmakers are off Monday for the Iowa mid-term caucuses. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell has her eye on some other issues.

John Pemble / IPR

The first month of the 2018 legislative session comes to a close this week. Here are a few takeaways from IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell:

While lawmakers in Washington DC are negotiating to reopen. Lawmakers in Iowa are still open for business. Here are a few issues to expect in the week ahead from IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Lawmakers return to the capitol Tuesday after the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The 2018 session started last week. Here are takeaways from IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell says going into week two.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Voters will be left to decide the fate of elected officials involved in sexual harassment complaints at the Iowa capitol. That’s according to former Senate President Mary Kramer who released recommendations to ensure a safe workplace at the statehouse on Friday.

“The elected official is really accountable only to the people who vote for them,” Kramer says. “The obligation of the organization will be to let the people who elected him know what went on so they can make their own judgment."

John Pemble / IPR

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds says the state is making “steps in the right direction” in curbing a culture of sexual harassment at the Iowa capitol.

Reynolds will serve in the state’s top job during her first legislative session when lawmakers come back to the capitol in January. Hanging over the session is the aftermath of a $1.75 million sexual harassment court settlement to a former Iowa Senate Republican caucus staffer.

“I don’t think it was handled appropriately but first of all let’s just say this is not a partisan issue,” Reynolds tells Iowa Public Radio.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

 

The so-called “Unity Commission” formed by the Democratic National Committee is recommending historic changes in the way Democrats conduct the Iowa Caucuses.

The state party would be required to let people who cannot attend the neighborhood meetings on Caucus Night cast their presidential preference vote.

"We've got to figure out what that process is," says Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price. "Our goal is to make sure that with the changes we make to this we don't lose the spirit of our caucuses."

John Pemble / IPR

This week Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds says she’s not backing down from yet another big change to Iowa’s privatized Medicaid.

“I’ve never said it was perfect," Gov. Reynolds said on Tuesday. "I’m willing to put the time and the effort into making sure that Iowans get the care that they deserve in a managed and coordinated and more modern delivery system.”

She says she’s “not going back” on how Iowa’s Medicaid is managed.

An Evening with Tom Ashbrook

Nov 28, 2017
Madeleine King/Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Public Radio welcomed Tom Ashbrook of On Point with Tom Ashbrook to Ames, Iowa on Thursday, November 9. In a public Q & A with Iowa Public Radio's Morning Edition host Clay Masters, Ashbrook discussed growing up on a small farm in Illinois, working as a foreign correspondent, and joining NPR following the attacks of September 11. 

Ashbrook, known for his hard-hitting questions and a deep understanding of what's going on in the world, hosts two hour-long live radio shows five days a week. 

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Actor Alec Baldwin, who impersonates President Donald Trump regularly on Saturday Night Live, spoke to a large crowd of Iowa Democrats Monday night. He kicked off his remarks with an 11 minute comedy routine that included his President Trump impression, before focusing on politics.

“It’s not enough to slap a new label on our brand that says new and improved,” Baldwin told the crowd. “We’ve got to back that up.”

Baldwin spent twice as much time giving a political call-to-action.

Meredith Corp.

Des Moines, Iowa Based Meredith Corporation has agreed to purchase Time Incorporated – the publisher of magazines like Time and Sports Illustrated. The deal was made possible by a hefty investment from the conservative brothers Charles and David Koch. Meredith has agreed to buy Time for $2.8 billion. This is the third time the Iowa-based company which owns magazines like Family Circle and Betters Homes and Gardens has attempted to make the purchase.

Food Bank of Iowa

About two dozen Des Moines police officers and Iowa State Patrol troopers packaged Thanksgiving meals at the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines this morning in an event called “Arrest Hunger”.

It took about 20 minutes for officers to assemble the 150 meal kits that food will be distributed to families in need in all of Iowa’s 99 counties, plus a couple dozen more in Des Moines. Colonel Jeff Ritzman is the Chief of the Iowa State Patrol says it’s their way to help out.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s a city council election in Des Moines soon, and voters have questions about the rivers where the city draws its water supply.

 

“Is (the water) safe to drink? Is it safe to consume?” candidate Michael Kiernan says he’s been asked.

 

Madeleine King/Iowa Public Radio

What's the solution to Iowa water quality issues? One approach is to get cities, suburbs, and farms together to find solutions.  In this special edition of River to River, hear highlights from a recent panel discussion held at the Iowa Tap Room in Des Moines.  IPR's Clay Masters moderated the conversation.  

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

Four finalists to be the next president of Iowa State University were on the Ames campus this week for interviews and meetings with faculty, staff and community members. Now, the search committee will review the feedback from the public forums and meet with the Board of Regents. A final decision is expected on October 23rd. The next president will replace Steven Leath who is now president of at Auburn University in Alabama. 

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa is one of 38 states that radically changed the way it runs Medicaid over the past few years. The state moved about 600,000 people on the government-run health program into care that is managed by for-profit insurance companies.

The idea is that the private companies would save the state money, but it has been a rocky transition in Iowa, especially for people like Neal Siegel.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Over the weekend, three Democratic U.S. representatives were in Iowa at a party fundraiser talking about how to appeal to the middle class again. Recently, Democrats have been losing elections in this state, known for its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. The event was meant to breathe life back into an old annual event and introduce some new faces in the party.

For years, the Harkin Steak Fry, a fundraiser for former Iowa Democratic U-S Senator Tom Harkin, was an annual staple for politicians in his party across the country.

Many conservatives pundits and lawmakers were incensed that President Donald Trump appeared to make a deal with Democrats to enshrine into law the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields many undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children. To make matters worse for immigration hawks, Trump is also not requiring funding to build a wall along the Mexican border as a condition of the possible deal.

Clay Masters / IPR

City officials in Des Moines and surrounding suburbs met Wednesday to discuss a plan to regionalize how water is produced for customers in the state’s largest metro. West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer says it would be more cost effective for the central Iowa cities to work on producing water together instead of a bunch of separate facilities.

“It’s incumbent then on [the cities] as their own utility to go ahead and handle the water from that point to the residents,” Gaer says.

Daniel Go/Flickr

Students returned to school this week at Des Moines Public Schools, and it’s the first year the district offers all elementary school students breakfast at no charge.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Along Interstate 80 in Iowa, near the Illinois border, is The World’s Largest Truck Stop – at least that’s what it claims. It has parking for 900 big rigs, there are restaurants, showers, even a dentist. Driver Roosevelt Phillips is here from Pittsburgh. He says truck stops like this one are a community.

“We talk about everything. I mean, y’know, I’m an adult so I’m talking to another truck driver, so we talk about whatever comes up,” Phillips says.

They talk about everything from politics to the news of the day – and the strange activity they see on the road.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

A group of community members from Des Moines is asking Iowa’s U.S. senators to let a woman in Iowa arrested by Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials be reunited with her 4-month-old son.  

Clay Masters / IPR

 

There's been a lot of talk lately about restoring trust in American journalism. The proliferation of the term "fake news" is probably the most prominent sign of a media industry currently under siege. A Pew Research study found that as of 2016, about 25 percent of Americans express high levels of trust in news they get from local news organizations, while about 15 percent trust information from their social connections.

Iowa Democratic Party

The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party is stepping down. Derek Eadon says he’s been diagnosed with non-life threatening Trigeminal Neuralgia and it requires radiation procedures over the summer.

“The last five months have shown me just how strong this party is,” Eadon says in a statement. “I will be taking some much needed time off, and I am excited to see what Democrats can do this election."

John Pemble / IPR

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie signed on with more than 200 mayors last week to uphold the Paris Agreement. That’s the global accord from which President Donald Trump withdrew the United States. Cownie says it’s a challenge for the city to move forward with clean energy goals without more buy-in from state leaders who regularly fall in line with the president.

“To ignore that factual piece and the science around it and all the data that’s out there is really unfortunate for the citizens of the state of Iowa and looking at our future and how we preserve our resources,” Cownie says.

Flickr Creative Commons

One morning on her way to school in Des Moines last month, 15-year-old Estela got a call from her mother. Her father had been arrested while going to work at a construction company.

“My dad was walking towards the office when the cars came in and told him to stop and pointed his guns at him.”

Estela’s father has a criminal conviction for re-entering the United States. Estela was born here. Her parents came to the U.S. fleeing violence in Mexico. We’re not using Estela's full name because her mother is also undocumented and fears she could also be arrested.

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