Government

Iowa GOP opens campaign with attack on Greenfield fundraising claims

Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa chairman, speaks at a November 2018 Iowa GOP event in Des Moines. On Thursday, h
Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa chairman, speaks at a November 2018 Iowa GOP event in Des Moines. On Thursday, he accused Theresa Greenfield, the Democrat who won the U.S. Senate primary this week, of lying about not accepting PAC money. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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The working title for Iowa Republicans in the 2020 U.S. Senate race seems to be “the two faces of Theresa Greenfield.”

Is the Democratic nominee the “scrappy farm kid” she claims or is she Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s puppet, as the Republican Party of Iowa claimed in a post-primary election call Thursday.

There was no drama in Tuesday’s Democratic five-way Senate primary, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said.

“Chuck Schumer made sure of that,” he said. “Just like the coordination of Hillary (Clinton) in 2016.”

He contrasted Greenfield’s nomination with the five-way “knockdown, drag-out” race Sen. Joni Ernst won in 2014, a victory that “truly came from the people,” not party leaders in Washington.

He quickly pivoted to the general election and framed Greenfield as a tool of Schumer, rather than someone who will represent Iowans and Iowa interests.

“We still have a lot of unanswered questions” about Greenfield, a Des Moines real estate executive who has no experience in elected office.

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Which face of Greenfield Iowans see will depend on “whichever one that Chuck Schumer orders up on that day,” Kauffman said.

Will it be the Greenfield who says she isn’t taking corporate political action committee money or the candidate who Kaufmann said has benefited from millions of dollars of PAC funds. Her no corporate PAC money pledge was a prominent part of her campaign, but one that her rivals questioned.

“The most important thing, though, is this charade ... this is actually a lie of this taking no corporate donations,” Kaufmann said.

Greenfield spokeswoman Izzi Levy responded that pushing “demonstrably false attacks” and turning to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s dark money allies makes it “pretty clear Sen. Ernst is in panic mode after Theresa’s decisive win this week.”

However, Kaufmann insisted “that’s not Kauffman spin, that’s fact” — that Greenfield received $200,000 from leadership PACs that often rely on corporate donations.

She also received more than $600,000 from corporate CEOs and executives and $66,000 from corporate lobbyists in addition to the millions from Schumer through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Levy, though, said fact checkers have debunked those claims.

“Theresa never wavered from her pledge not to accept one dime of corporate PAC money,” Levy said. “It’s Sen. Ernst who got caught illegally coordinating with a dark money group set up by her own top political aides, while taking more than $1.9 million from corporate PACs and putting them first at the expense of hardworking Iowans.”

PolitiFact called Greenfield’s claim that she’s not taking corporate PAC money “mostly true” but went on to say “some leadership PACs she has received contributions from get a sizable chunk of their funding from corporate PACs.” That includes Impact, a PAC associated with Schumer that takes money from pharmaceuticals, telecom companies and commercial banks.

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For Kaufmann, it’s not a question of whether a candidate should take campaign money from those sources, but Greenfield’s insistence that she isn’t taking PAC money.

“I suppose every politician will spin a little bit and, when there’s wiggle room, they’ll wiggle,” he said. “I get that. This is a blatant lie that is being placed out there by Chuck Schumer on behalf of Theresa Greenfield.”

The Ernst campaign also weighed in with a fundraising appeal Thursday calling Greenfield Schumer’s “handpicked candidate ... simply a tool for the Democratic agenda” who supports “extreme pro-abortion policies, gun control and socialized health care like Obamacare.”

In a separate memo, Greenfield campaign manager Jordanna Zeigler said Greenfield had outraised Ernst in the most recent Federal Election Commission reporting periods.

So it’s no surprise that groups aligned with McConnell, “including his Super PAC and dark money group, are set to spend more than $20 million in Iowa,” Zeigler said.

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

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