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County fair controversy over flags in support of President Trump

DECORAH, Iowa (KWWL) – One eastern Iowa man says his rights were violated when he says he was forced to take down his flag in support of President Trump at a county fair.

Nathan Reque told KWWL a Winneshiek County Fair official told him to remove the President Trump flag from the back of his wheelchair. He says he feels like his personal rights have been violated.

“They had a complaint that it was offensive to someone,” said Reque.

Reque said he has been flying the flag from behind his wheelchair since Tuesday.  While he was flying the flag when he met with KWWL, he said he was forced to remove it Thursday.

“They told me exactly that I could not fly it and I had to take it down. And I had to take it down right there in front of them,” he said.

The story first spread when the Winneshiek County Republicans posted to Facebook, saying that Reque was asked to remove the flag.  The post also mentions two children who allegedly putting similar flags in support of the President in their stalls in the fair’s 4-H building, and they were also told to take them down.

In response, the fair board posted on Facebook.  They say, as a non-profit, they can’t support or endorse political candidates or parties.

The IRS confirms this, saying that, if a non-profit supports a candidate, they could lose their status and tax exemptions.

But Thomas Hansen, chairman for the county Republicans who is also running for a U.S. Congressional seat, said he hasn’t heard or seen any official fair board member endorse a candidate or a specific viewpoint.  He said the fair board said they didn’t want to make the fair political.

“I tried to tell them, well, we have a Democratic booth and a Republican booth, so the fair is kind of political and we get to express our thoughts and that’s a good deal,” said Hansen.  “I don’t know how you can say the entire fair is non-political.”

A few weeks ago there was a similar dispute between Hansen and the City of Decorah, where he asked the city to allow him to fly President Trump flags downtown on the 4th of July. The city denied that request, saying no political flags are allowed to fly on city property. See the full KWWL story on that situation here:

https://kwwl.com/news/2019/06/18/council-denies-decorah-mans-request-to-fly-trump-flags/

KWWL reached out to the Winneshiek County Fair Board multiple times Friday.  Twice, the person or persons who answered said they either had no knowledge of the incidents or had no comment. Our latest calls have not been returned.

Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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