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First Tee
Morningside students partner with First Tee for fundraiser

SIOUX CITY  | A group of Morningside students are taking a swing at fundraising for a local foundation that teaches youth life skills through the game of golf.

On Saturday at the AMC Classic Southern Hills 12, the public is invited to check out a 10 a.m. screening of “Thor: Ragnarok” and help support The First Tee of Siouxland at the same time.

Led by Paul Tucker, eight Morningside seniors will sell snacks, raffle tickets and hold an auction using donated items with all proceeds going to First Tee. To get the items being offered up, the students met with Siouxland business leaders and asked for cash or in-kind donations.

Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal 

A group of Morningside College students plan on auctioning off goods Saturday at AMC Classic Southern Hills movie theater that they acquired from local businesses as a fundraiser for The First Tee of Siouxland.

Reid Welch, another one of the event’s organizers, said they’ve been working on this fundraiser since the semester started in August.

Craig Berenstein, executive director of First Tee and a former Morningside adjunct instructor, approached current Morningside instructor Cody Delperdang about partnering with the nonprofit prior to the school year.

Delperdang teaches a service learning class at Morningside where students are required to volunteer at least 14 hours with a community organization. He offered to let Berenstein pitch directly to the class early in the semester and Tucker, Welch and six others agreed to take part.

What appealed to the students was an opportunity to get real world experience in approaching business professionals and a chance to plan out an event from scratch, versus other volunteering options that were a little less hands-on.

“There were two elements to it,” Berenstein said. “No. 1, and most importantly, was creating awareness for both the class and First Tee, but No. 2 was generating some fundraising opportunity with donations and the mechanics of the event itself and they did a great job.”

Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal 

The First Tee of Siouxland Executive Director Craig Berenstein poses with Morningside College seniors Paul Tucker and Reid Welch in front all goods that the students collected as part of a fundraiser to support First Tee.

Both Tucker and Welch admitted they were initially apprehensive about reaching out to the business community, but grew more comfortable communicating with them as the process continued.

“Taking that initiative to talk to them about this makes you more comfortable about getting out into the real world after graduation,” Welch said.

After about three months of work, the students are ready for Saturday.

They don’t have a certain amount of money they want to raise — they’ve already generated about $500 through private donations — and just want people to show up to support a good cause and catch a flick.

“I think we are going to raise almost (enough) to be able to match that with the other stuff that we’re putting together,” Tucker said. “If we were going to put a monetary amount on it, I would love to get a $1,000 but I think at this point it’s more about exposure.”

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Report: Sam Clovis questioned in Mueller's Russia probe

SIOUX CITY | Northwest Iowa's Sam Clovis, a former top official in Donald Trump's presidential campaign, has been questioned in connection to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged meddling by Russia in the 2016 campaign, according to media reports.

Clovis, who now is a White House aide to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, testified last week before a grand jury seated in Washington, D.C., NBC News first reported Wednesday.

Clovis, a former Morningside College professor and Sioux City radio talk show host, was propelled into the middle of Mueller's high-stakes probe on Monday with the unsealing of court documents related a guilty pleading by George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.

Papadopoulos, who was secretly arrested in July for lying to the FYI and pleaded guilty last month to those charges, is cooperating with Mueller's investigation, according to the documents.

As national campaign co-chair and senior policy advisor of the Trump campaign, Clovis was asked to form a national security advisory committee charged by then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama.  The members included Papadopoulos, who was not approached by the campaign for consultation, other than one meeting he attended in March 2016, Victoria Toensing, the attorney for Clovis, said in a statement to the Journal.

In his plea filing, Papadopolous admitted he told Trump and other top campaign national security officials during the March 31 meeting that he had contact with intermediaries for Russia who said they could set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Papadopoulos continued to email campaign officials about a possible meeting with individuals claiming to work for the Russian government who were offering "dirt" in the form of emails from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

In an August 2016 email, among the court documents uncovered Monday, Clovis urged Papadopoulos to "make the trip, if it is feasible."

To Clovis' knowledge, Toensing said in the statement, all of Papadopoulos' communications with the campaign were "self-generated." Clovis never told Papadopoulos that "a principal foreign policy focus of the campaign was an improved U.S. relationship with Russia," because that was not Clovis' view of Trump's foreign policies priorities, Toensing said.

She added that Clovis "always vigorous opposed" any Russian trip for Trump or staff. If a volunteer made that suggestion, Clovis, "a polite gentleman from Iowa, would have expressed courtesy and appreciation," Toensing said.

"There was a strict campaign rule that no one could travel abroad and claim to be representing or speaking on behalf of the campaign," the statement said. "If someone proposed foreign travel in a personal capacity, Dr. Clovis would have had no authority to prohibit such travel."

Clovis, who taught economics at Morningside, has been nominated by Trump as the top scientist with the USDA, but his nomination has been vigorously opposed by many Democrats, environmental groups and some ag interests. Critics argue he does not have sufficient academic qualifications for the position and has made past statements that question whether climate change is man made.

Clovis scheduled for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Nov. 9.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the agriculture committee, said it's too early to know if Clovis' role in the Mueller investigation will affect his nomination to the USDA post. Grassley noted that Clovis also is cooperating with the Senate Intelligence Committee's own investigation into Russian interference in the election. 

Grassley said emails supplied by the Trump campaign show Papadopoulos offered to travel to several countries to meet with Russian officials but never to make a trip to Moscow, as some news organizations have reported, he said.

Editor's note: Changes an earlier version of this story that misstated Clovis' reported interaction with Robert Mueller's investigation and grand jury.