KNOXVILLE — Police have arrested the former chair of the Libertarian Party of Iowa, charging him with theft.

Investigators say that Michael James Conner Jr., 41, of Knoxville, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree theft, a class C felony.

According to court filings from police, Conner used a debit card connected to the party’s bank account for personal purchases and withdrawals totaling $10,037.

In October, the party reported that Conner resigned his position as chair and that internal investigations were ongoing. He became the chairperson for the party in February 2020.

In November, the party said in a press release they had reported evidence of unauthorized transactions they discovered during a review to authorities.

Investigators say the card was used from Aug. 20, 2021 until Oct. 17, 2021. Unauthorized transactions included several web streaming services, ATM cash withdrawals, and grocery and alcohol purchases.

Current party chair Ed Wright praised the quick action of the Knoxville Police Department in bringing charges against Conner. “We are still in a state of shock that someone we selected to lead our party could have betrayed the trust of the LPIA and its members so egregiously,” he said in a statement.

The Libertarian Party of Iowa is recognized as the state’s third-largest political party, behind the state’s Republican and Democratic parties.

Conner had previously run for Knoxville City Council in 2019 but was the lowest vote-getter in a six-candidate field. He currently serves on the city’s planning and zoning commission.

Conner posted bond and was released. Online court records do not list an attorney for Conner.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at kocker@oskyherald.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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