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Iowa Connection

As new Iowa Governor-elect Terry Branstad fills positions in his new government, it’s clear that we’ll need to establish a Washington and Lee alumni chapter in the state capitol in Des Moines.

First, Gov.-elect Brandstad announced that he is retaining Donna Mueller, a 1979 graduate of the W&L School of Law, as chief executive officer of the giant Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System. Gov.-elect Brandstad is keeping Donna in the post she has held since 2003. The IPERS system is a public pension fund for state and local government workers. It has more than 300,000 members, 2,200 participating employers, and assets in excess of $21 billion. The director of the independent agency is responsible for overseeing operations, investments and benefits paid through the program. Donna previously headed the Boston Retirement Board. In addition to her W&L law degree, she is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Program for Senior Executives at Harvard University.

Then, one day later, the governor-elect named Sam Lanholz, a member of the Class of 2002, as the Iowa State Public Defender. A politics major at W&L, Sam received his law degree from the University of Iowa, where he was managing editor of the “Iowa Law Review.” He is the Founding President of the Iowa Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society and an active member of the Iowa State Bar Association. He has previously served as a prosecuting intern in the Muscatine County Attorney’s Office and judicial law clerk based in Des Moines for Judge Steven M. Colloton in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Prior to law school, Sam served as Chief Floor Assistant for then-U.S. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO). He is currently an associate attorney at Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shores & Roberts, P.C. in Des Moines.

The Iowa State Public Defender coordinates legal representation for those who come under arrest and cannot afford their legal representation. Either the State Public Defender’s offices or private attorneys who are contracted by State Public Defender’s office provide the representation for these individuals.

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