Associated Press: “An outside group founded by top political aides to Sen. Joni Ernst has worked closely with the Iowa Republican to raise money and boost her reelection prospects, a degree of overlap that potentially violates the law, documents obtained by The Associated Press show”
Senator Joni Ernst ran in 2014 on the promise that she’d make Washington squeal – but a new report in the Associated Press reveals she’s just part of the problem. The AP reports today that Senator Ernst and her team were caught working “in close concert” with a dark money group to benefit her 2020 re-election campaign, “a degree of overlap” that violates the law.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price released the following statement:
“Senator Ernst has repeatedly sold herself as someone who was going to make Washington squeal, but this damning report makes clear that she’s been more focused on breaking the rules to help herself. This blatantly illegal and self-serving conduct reinforces why Iowa’s hardworking families can’t trust Senator Ernst to fight for them in Washington.”
Here are the highlights from the Associated Press report: ‘Dark money’ ties raise questions for GOP Sen. Ernst of Iowa
“An outside group founded by top political aides to Sen. Joni Ernst has worked closely with the Iowa Republican to raise money and boost her reelection prospects, a degree of overlap that potentially violates the law, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.
“Iowa Values, a political nonprofit that is supposed to be run independently, was co-founded in 2017 by Ernst’s longtime consultant, Jon Kohan. It shares a fundraiser, Claire Holloway Avella, with the Ernst campaign. And a condo owned by a former aide — who was recently hired to lead the group — was used as Iowa Values’ address at a time when he worked for her.
“Political nonprofits are often referred to as “dark money” groups because they can raise unlimited sums and are not required to reveal their donors. But they must take steps to keep their activities separate from the candidates they support. Additionally, while such tax-exempt groups can do political work, they can’t make it their primary purpose.
“The documents reviewed by the AP, including emails and a strategy memo, not only make clear that the group’s aim is securing an Ernst win in 2020, but they also show Ernst and her campaign worked in close concert with Iowa Values.
“Taken together, some legal experts say the documents offer proof that the effort violates the spirit of campaign finance and tax law, if not the letter of it.
“It seems like pretty strong evidence” that the $50,000 request was for an “illegal donation” while it’s “clear that the goal of Iowa Values is to reelect Joni Ernst, which may violate its tax-exempt status,” said Brendan Fischer, an attorney with the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington.”