Iowa's current governor gave one of Iowa's former governors an unusual but fitting birthday present Wednesday.
Gov. Terry E. Branstad renamed the large conference room in the state Capitol where weekly press conferences are held in honor of Robert D. Ray on Ray's 84th birthday.
Branstad, who has an oft-stated goal of transparency in Iowa's government, said one of his first priorities following his return to office in 2011 was to hold a press conference every week.
However, he said Ray, for whom Branstad served as lieutenant governor from 1979 to1983, held daily press conferences when he first became Iowa's governor. Eventually, Branstad said, Ray reduced the number of press conferences to about three a week.
"I actually will have served more years," Branstad told a gathering in Des Moines Thursday night, "but he'll have had more press conferences in that room than anybody in the history of our state. He set a great standard for openness and integrity in government."
Branstad also called Ray "a phenomenal governor and a true statesman."
"I wanted to honor Gov. Ray's accomplishments in a fitting manner, and given this is such an important room with a high public visibility, this is a fitting tribute to his service."
Ray's official portrait will hang in the conference room as a reminder that Iowa has a tradition of openness in government that its current leader intends to maintain.