Government

Joni Ernst campaign says challenger takes the cake on special interest money

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during the second day of her Senate confirmat
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during the second day of her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday in Washington. (Associated Press)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — To mark Theresa Greenfield’s status as what Sen. Joni Ernst’s campaign says is the largest beneficiary of special interest money in Iowa campaign history, Ernst’s team is sending Greenfield a cake to “recognize her astounding hypocrisy as liberal spending benefiting her now tops $100 million.”

“When it comes to liberal special interest money, Theresa Greenfield wants to have her cake and eat it too,” Ernst campaign spokeswoman Melissa Deatsch said. “While she continues to mislead Iowans by claiming she’s against special interest money, she is the single biggest beneficiary of special interest money in the history of Iowa, as now more than $100 million is being spent for her by extreme, coastal liberal friends to try and buy Iowa’s Senate seat.”

Ernst has called Greenfield a hypocrite for benefiting from more than $100 million in spending while at the same time saying she doesn’t accept “one dime of corporate PAC money.”

“It’s time to clean up our politics by passing new legislation that permanently bans corporate PAC donations,” Greenfield wrote in a Medium post.

“She’s saying, ‘No special interest money. We shouldn’t have it in the election,’ ” Ernst said. “Then on the other side, she says, ‘Oh, special interest people, bring it into Iowa.’ What a hypocrite.”

The campaign’s claim is based on Center for Responsive Politics data as well as data collected for the Ernst campaign that it said shows spending on behalf of Greenfield, including by her own campaign, is more than $103 million.

However, that’s without violating her promise not to take corporate PAC money, said Greenfield’s communications director, Sam Newton.

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“While Theresa has kept her pledge to reject donations from corporate PACs, as verified by independent fact-checkers, and has a plan to ban dark money and ban corporate PACs, Sen. Ernst is pushing these desperate smears because she has no plan to get big money out of politics,” Newton said.

Ernst, he added, “got caught illegally coordinating with a dark money group set up by her own top aides.”

Ernst has benefited from outside spending as well, the Greenfield campaign pointed out. She’s been on the receiving end of nearly $40 million from the Senate Majority Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund.

The difference, the Ernst campaign said, is that “Greenfield claims she’s against PACs and dark outside money ... just not when it applies to her.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, $42.8 million has been spent supporting Greenfield and opposing Ernst, and $40.8 million has been spent opposing Greenfield and supporting Ernst.

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

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