DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The wife of the Des Moines school district's superintendent is raising eyebrows with her $400 donation to a local school board candidate's campaign.
School board experts and government watchdogs say the donation Jami Bassman Ahart made is legal but it raises ethical questions because the school board will be making decisions about Superintendent Tom Ahart's future employment.
Bassman Ahart told the Des Moines Register that she donated to Shelley Skuster's campaign because she believes they share the same values because both women adopted their children, who attend schools in the district. Skuster is challenging incumbent Kim Martorano who previously voted not to extend Ahart's contract beyond 2023.
The donation doesn’t appear to violate any rules related to campaign donations, but it is an uncommon situation.
“I don’t know of any rule that would prohibit the spouse of a superintendent from donating to a school board candidate,” said Andrew Greenberg, Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board attorney.
Daniel Domenech with the American Association of School Administrators said it is unusual for a superintendent’s wife to donate to a school board candidate because in general superintendents are wary of doing anything controversial.