Ross Paustian, a Republican state rep in the Iowa legislature, became the target of online ridicule this week when he was photographed apparently reading a book during an important House debate on how the state pays public school teachers. But it wasn’t only the fact that Paustian appeared to be goofing off on the taxpayer’s dime that got his constituents, and others, upset. It was the book Paustian was caught reading.
Here’s the photo, which Des Moines Register state house correspondent Brianne Pfannenstiel posted to her Twitter account.
— Brianne Pfannenstiel (@brianneDMR) March 17, 2015
The GOP rep, who turned 59 years old earlier this month, was seemingly engrossed in a book titled Sex After Sixty: A Guide For Men And Women In Their Later Years. The book appears to be a previous edition of a work by Robert N. Butler M.D. and Myrna I. Lewis Ph.D. now titled The New Love And Sex Over Sixty.
“You may be getting older but love and sex are still a vital part of your life. Here is the book that speaks to your concerns about sex beyond the middle years,” says the book’s Amazon.com description, which also promises, “the truth about aging and how it affects sexual desire and lovemaking.”
Nothing wrong with that — but the propriety of reading a sex manual, for senior citizens or otherwise, on the state house while debate on critical legislation is taking place has led to an angry response that quickly forced Paustian, who represents Iowa’s 92nd House District, into a public apology — but not without a gripe about his reading habits being used against him for political purposes.
“I’m getting a lot of pretty vicious emails from people, so I have to explain. The main thing is I was totally engaged in what was going on on the floor. I knew what was going on. I knew how we were going to vote on amendments. So it wasn’t like I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on,” Paustian told an Iowa radio station.
“If any of my constituents were offended, I apologize. I certainly wasn’t trying to offend anybody. I’m doing my job here for my constituents.”
Paustian claimed he was merely glancing at the book which had been handed to him by another House Republican as a joke — just as Democrats were presenting their own amendments to the legislation.
“That stuff always gets political,” Paustian added. “But that’s just part of the job.”
The photo of Ross Paustian reading Sex After Sixty came during the same debate in which another Republican rep, Clel Baudler, was photographed watching Netflix on his laptop computer.