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No-bid Iowa vendor charged with felony in assault on woman

May 19, 2020 GMT

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A long-time Republican donor and campaign vendor was awarded millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to supply personal protective equipment to Iowa’s executive branch despite facing a felony charge alleging that he brutally beat a woman.

David Greenspon, owner of Competitive Edge, Inc., is charged with willful injury causing serious injury in the Nov. 25 altercation at his West Des Moines mansion. Police allege that he kicked and struck the 37-year-old woman repeatedly in the head and face, chipping her front tooth and bruising her ribs.

The woman, who was on the floor and intoxicated, recorded part of the alleged attack on her cellphone. Police arrested Greenspon, 63, two weeks later after reviewing the video.

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Greenspon has pleaded not guilty under a defense of property theory, arguing that he used appropriate force to remove a trespasser from his home. He allegedly told police that he slapped the woman twice “to try and get her senseful” when she would not leave, but that he didn’t beat her. If convicted, Greenspon faces up to 10 years in prison.

The state doesn’t conduct criminal background checks when awarding contracts and was unaware of the allegations against Greenspon, said Department of Administrative Services spokeswoman Tami Wiencek. The state checks on whether companies are in good standing, she said.

The state awarded Competitive Edge three contracts in April to supply isolation gowns and goggles that would be used by health care workers to protect themselves from the coronavirus. They’re worth $7.2 million and require his company to supply 1.1 million items in coming weeks.

The contracts were awarded as Iowa rushed to rebuild its stockpile of personal protective equipment. Gov. Kim Reynolds suspended competitive bidding requirements in March for goods and services needed to fight the coronavirus. State Auditor Rob Sand said Monday he’s reviewing the contracts.

Greenspon, whose company usually makes promotional items like t-shirts and campaign signs, has never supplied such equipment before. He said both products were being manufactured in China and would be “non-medical stuff.”

“We aren’t messing around with anything that’s critical,” he said. He said he wasn’t sure who would use them but “they aren’t medical so they aren’t going into surgery. They are clearly marked that way.”

The gowns are to be made of polyester and coated with polyurethane to provide fluid resistance and anti-microbial properties. The contract says they’re for “health care worker protection and are not sterile.”

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Agencies awarding contracts can consider a vendor’s “integrity and reliability,” past performance and “the best interest of the state,” in addition to factors such as price and quality, administrative rules show. Felony convictions do not appear to be disqualifying by themselves.

Greenspon’s defense attorney, Rick Olson, said his client vigorously disputes the criminal charge. He said the case should have no bearing on Greenspon’s business relationship with the state, saying he is innocent until proven guilty.

“We don’t think there’s any merit to it,” he said. “I’ve seen the video. There’s not much there, other than my client asking her to leave, which she doesn’t do numerous times.”

Olson, a Democratic state representative, urged a reporter to investigate “who the alleged victim is and what her history is.” She was arrested for operating while intoxicated after leaving Greenspon’s home.

A hearing is scheduled for next week to determine whether Greenspon has the right to conduct in-person depositions of witnesses. A trial date hasn’t been set because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal records show that Greenspon donated $15,000 in February to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising campaign supporting President Trump’s reelection and Republican groups.

Greenspon has long been connected to Iowa Republicans, but he said that his ties didn’t land him the state’s business. He said Competitive Edge has supplied various items to state government, and officials called him unsolicited seeking help acquiring gowns and goggles because he imports from China.

The contracts were issued by the Department of Administrative Services and to be paid for by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

They came as Greenspon claimed to be struggling financially.

On April 16, Greenspon attested in a court filing that he currently had zero income. The claim came in a request to reduce his child support obligations to an ex-wife, whose attorney suggested in a recent filing that Greenspon uses business income for “personal endeavors.”

Greenspon gave $2,500 to the Republican Party of Iowa’s federal committee last year, records show. He has donated to several candidates over the years, including to the campaigns of Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.

Iowa political campaigns have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying signs and other items through Competitive Edge since 2003, records show.

Greenspon said in an interview last week that he was “apolitical” and didn’t like the direction of the nation’s politics.

“It’s a different climate these days,” he said. “As a businessman, I don’t like what goes on right now.”

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