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Government

Iowa legislative panel dismisses ethics complaint about Finkenauer

Cedar Rapids woman filed complaints

Abby Finkenauer speaks at a canvassing event for  Finkenauer at her campaign office on First Avenue Southeast in Cedar Rapids on Friday, June 29, 2018. Finkenauer was joined by state and federal representatives, as well as the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Abby Finkenauer speaks at a canvassing event for Finkenauer at her campaign office on First Avenue Southeast in Cedar Rapids on Friday, June 29, 2018. Finkenauer was joined by state and federal representatives, as well as the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

An Iowa legislative panel has dismissed ethics complaints against a state lawmaker running for Congress.

The House Ethics Committee unanimously dismissed the complaints made by Carol Sullivan of Cedar Rapids that Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Dubuque, improperly used a photo of her during a floor debate in a television ad and that she misused tax funds by including a link to her campaign website on her official biographical page on the Legislature’s website.

Finkenauer is challenging U.S. Rep. Rod Blum in northeast Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

The bipartisan panel on Friday dismissed both complaints “with prejudice,” meaning they can’t be taken up again by the committee.

Republicans on the committee called the complaints “partisan politics” and “disturbing.”

Chairman Rob Taylor, R-West Des Moines, said it’s not unusual for lawmakers to include a link to other resources on the official website. A warning that a user is leaving the Legislature website pops up when those links are clicked.

Generally, the links are to a lawmaker’s newsletter. Finkenauer included links to both her newsletter and to abbyforiowa.com, her campaign site. That link has been removed.

Sullivan, who has given nearly $10,000 to the Blum campaign, according to campaign finance reports, said Finkenauer’s use a photo of herself on the House floor engaged in a debate was nothing more than a “taxpayer-funded campaign appearance.”

That’s a matter of opinion, Rep. Dennis Cohoon, D-Burlington, said.

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

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