Democrat operative Zach Edwards changed his initial not guilty plea to guilty and received a light sentence for stealing Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s identity. The plea was officially filed by Iowa Courts on Thursday. He pled guilty to identity theft, a simple misdemeanor.
Edwards received a deferred sentence of one year probation, 20 hours of community service within 120 days and a $65 fine. If he completes probation successfully, the simple misdemeanor charge is dismissed without a conviction being entered on his record. Edwards was originally charged with an aggravated misdemeanor and faced a maximum of two years in prison and a $6,250 fine. He was represented by prominent Republican attorney Matt Whitaker.
Zach Edwards was the Iowa Director of New Media for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. At the time of his arrest, he served in a similar capacity for Link Strategies, a Democrat consultant group closely aligned with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and several prominent Democrats around the country.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Edwards tried to use the identities of Secretary of State Matt Schultz, and/or his brother Thomas, with the intent to falsely implicate Secretary Schultz in illegal or unethical behavior. The Secretary of State’s office discovered the crime and reported it to authorities. Edwards was fired from his position at Link Strategies following the arrest.
Zach Edwards’ crime took place in the midst of a coordinated effort by the Iowa Democratic Party to tear down the Republican Secretary of State. On June 24, the same day he tried to steal Schultz’ identity, a blog connected to Iowa Democrats launched a three-part series of articles critical of Matt Schultz. That same month, the Iowa Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint against Schultz. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dismissed the complaint on July 19.
UPDATE: The story has been revised to note that Edwards was originally charged with an aggravated misdemeanor, but the charges were revised to a simple misdemeanor.