Cedar Rapids Superintendent Brad Buck and two members of the Cedar Rapids school board - which is poised to decide whether to close eight and rebuild 10 of the district's elementary schools - will take questions in an open forum Wednesday.

Democrat wants another candidate to decline PAC money in 1st District U.S. House race

Heckroth asks Finkenauer to skip donations during legislative session

Thomas Heckroth

Cedar Falls
Thomas Heckroth Cedar Falls

One of the four Democrats running for the 1st District U.S. House nomination is challenging another candidate to not take contributions from political action committees and lobbyists while the Iowa Legislature is in session.

Iowa law prohibits lobbyists and political action committees from making contributions to candidates for statewide and legislative offices during legislative sessions. The 2018 session is scheduled to start Jan. 8 and run for 100 days or until mid-April.

“Rep. (Abby) Finkenauer should follow the same rules as her colleagues in the state Legislature by refusing contributions from PACs and lobbyists during the upcoming session,” Thomas Heckroth said Thursday. “We need to reduce the influence of money in the political process and keep special interest influence out of state government.”

Accepting his challenge, he said, would “eliminate any appearance or possibility of using her state position to advance her federal campaign committee,” the Cedar Falls Democrat said.

“She shouldn’t use two sets of rules as a giant loophole to Iowa’s ethics rule,” Heckroth said. “I’m hopeful that Rep. Finkenauer agrees that we need transparency and accountability during the legislative session and follows the rules our state already has in place.”

The Finkenauer campaign refused Heckroth’s challenge, saying it will continue to accept donations to Finerauer’s congressional campaign, which is not governed by the law against donations to Statehouse campaigns during a legislative session.

The campaign said it doesn’t believe Finkenauer should be penalized while performing a public service by serving in the Legislature.

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“While I’m proud to continue fighting back against the anti-woman, anti-worker policies of the Republican majority in the Legislature, that won’t stop this campaign’s momentum as I look to replace Rod Blum, who puts millionaires and special interests ahead of everyday Iowans,” Finkenauer said.

Heckroth spokesman Sam Roecker was disappointed with the response, charging Finkenauer, of Dubuque, “isn’t willing to take a stand against special interest money in the legislative process.”

Democrats Courtney Rowe and George Ramsey, both of Cedar Rapids, also are running for the Democratic nomination in the 20-county 1st District that includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown.

The race, however, is seen as a two-person race between Finkenauer and Heckroth.

Finkenauer started earlier and has collected nine labor union endorsements as well as the backing of Emily’s List and NARAL, a pro-abortion rights PAC. She’s also been endorsed by End Citizens United, which is fighting to limit the influence of money in politics.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Finkenauer has raised $308,120 in two quarters and has $168,586 cash on hand. Heckroth has raised $133,822 in one quarter and has $105,296 cash on hand.

The primary election to determine who will challenge U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, will be June 5.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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