CORONAVIRUS

Joni Ernst planned in-person fundraiser before Washington stay-at-home order extended

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks May 6 during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on the nomination of Judg
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks May 6 during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on the nomination of Judge Justin Walker to be a U.S. Circuit Court judge for the District of Columbia Circuit. (Pool photo via AP)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Joni Ernst plans to kick off the general election campaign with an in-person fundraiser.

The Iowa Republican, who is running for re-election, is planning an in-person fundraising event June 3, the day after Iowa’s primary election. She will face the winner of a four-way Democratic primary in a race that recently has been rated “leans Republican.” The Washington, D.C., event would be hosted by the Jobs, Opportunities and New Ideas (JONI) PAC.

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped political fundraising, but limited much of it to virtual events along with myriad online appeals. Ernst appears to be among the first members of Congress to return to in-person fundraising.

That troubled the Iowa Democratic Party, which said the fundraiser is typical for a “Washington politician who will do anything to stay in power.”

“It’s extremely troubling,” Iowa Democratic Party spokesman Jeremy Busch said about Ernst’s “complete disregard for medical experts by putting people needlessly at risk with an in-person fundraiser in the middle of a pandemic.”

Attendance, of course, is by choice, and according to the invitation the Ernst campaign is “closely monitoring the COVID-19 developments and will adhere to CDC guidelines.”

The invitation was sent before the mayor of Washington extended the district’s stay-at-home order and ban on mass gatherings through June 8.

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Again, according to the invitation, if an in-person gathering is not possible, the Ernst campaign will host a virtual meeting and “plan an in-person gathering at a later date.”

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

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