The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


August 24, 2012

LEVINE: Vice president nominee has local ties to area

CLINTON — We still have a few months before the November election, but it seems that we’ll be inundated with nasty rhetoric and misleading political commercials until Election Day finally arrives.

Out of all the mudslinging, one interesting story did materialize when Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate.

Ryan’s career in Congress started in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2000, when a connection to Clinton surfaced. Ryan married Janna Little 12 years ago, and although Janna likely hasn’t stepped foot in Clinton, her mother did, and her family left quite a footprint.

Janna’s mother, Prudence (Petersen) Little, grew up in Clinton and she graduated from Clinton High School with honors. Prudence went off to Wellesley College near Boston (just like Janna) where she met her husband Dan.

They moved to Oklahoma and Prudence eventually graduated from law school in 1968 as first in class, and practiced law for many years. She even wrote the legal opinion that became a part of the movie, “Believe in Me.”

Unfortunately Prudence wasn’t able to see her daughter’s family achieve the honor of being nominated for vice president. She died in 2010, but her impact didn’t stop there.

According to The Associated Press, Ryan has above-average wealth, thanks in large part to Prudence. Ryan earns an annual salary of $174,000, but most of his money comes from investments in natural resources and a trust fund set up following Prudence’s death, according to The Associated Press.

House ethics reports show the trust, worth between $1 million and $5 million, boosted the couples’ wealth in recent years, which had previously been around $2 million, according to The Associated Press.

The trust helped increase his average reported net worth in 2000 from about $350,000 to more than $1 million.

But being active in the community didn’t start with Prudence. Her parents Adelaide and Dr. Vernon Petersen were active members in Clinton, with Vernon establishing a practice in Clinton and Adelaide being honored as the Woman of Action in 1987 by the YWCA in Clinton.

Although Clinton may not see a lot from the presidential candidates this year, the city can look back and know they had a part, albeit minor, in the 2012 election.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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