116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Tim Phillips isn’t waiting for the Iowa Legislature to approve a congressional redistricting plan.
The Americans for Prosperity national president and adviser to its political arm was in Marion on Saturday to encourage the re-election of Rep. Ashley Hinson.
“She’s a priority,” Phillips said about the freshman congresswoman. “She votes in a principled fashion and tried to bring people together.
“We think that’s a good thing … that civility matters,” he said.
Hinson, a Marion Republican, wasn’t at the event at Allen’s Orchard where more than 60 people heard from Phillips and the representative’s staff. Hinson has not returned from Washington where the House was in session Friday evening.
The Legislature could vote as early as Tuesday on the plan which would put Hinson in a congressional district including just two counties — Linn and Jones — from her current 1st District. That’s prompted speculation she might move into the proposed 2nd District. That 26-county district would include 18 of the 20 counties she now represents.
The debate in Congress over an infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion Democratic budget plan is a “big moment” for the nation, similar to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s and the “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980s.
So electing and re-electing people who agree with AFP’s free market philosophy takes on added importance when the Senate is deadlocked at 50-50 and Democrats have a five-vote majority in the House, he said.
“We’re going to make sure she wins,” Phillips said about Hinson. “We’re all in.”
The forum drew criticism from members of Indivisible Iowa, who oppose Hinson. Based on the invitation she received, JoAnn McNeil of Cedar Rapids assumed everyone would be welcome. However, they were turned away by AFP, which hosted the forum.
“It is unfortunate that AFP and Hinson will not engage in dialogue or answer questions about issues that are important to all of us,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like Hinson wants to listen to anyone whose opinion is different from hers or from Americans for Prosperity.”
Now might be a good time to remind Ashley Hinson that she works for Iowans in the First Congressional District, not organizations like Americans for Prosperity.
Anna Brichacek, campaign manager State Sen. Liz Mathis, a Hiawatha Democratic who is running for the U.S. House, also was critical, calling AFP a “right-wing dark money group” that spent nearly a half million dollars helping to elect Hinson.
“AFP is coming to collect on that investment,” Brichacek said. The infrastructure bill would invest $5 billion in improvements to Iowa’s roads, bridges, ports, broadband access, flood prevention infrastructure and more.
Hinson has been critical of the package because it doesn’t include enough funding for Iowa’s infrastructure needs and said that unless that changes she will oppose it.
“She’s making it clear to Iowans that she’d rather stand with the Koch Brothers than with Sen. Grassley and a bipartisan majority to invest in Iowa’s infrastructure,” Mathis said. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa was among Republican senators who voted for the package.
Mathis seems to be confused about AFP, AFP Action and the Koch Brothers political action committee, Phillips and AFP Iowa Director Drew Klein said.
AFP engages in advocacy on a broad range of issues such as government debt, immigration and criminal justice reform that it believes prevent people from realizing their potential, Phillips said.
“We’re a grassroots organization that seeks to have serious conversations to bring people together to find solutions,” Phillips said. Nationally, AFP has about 180,000 donors “giving us a broad base of support.”
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