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Outside money returns to IA-03

Bleeding Heartland user Strong Island Hawk reviews some “issue ads” now targeting (or defending) U.S. Representative Cindy Axne.

Welcome to the Age of Dark Money. And that means All Political Ads, All the Time. Iowans know all too well the constant barrage of campaign commercials especially before Election Day or during the primaries. Thanks to long experience with the first-in-the-nation caucuses, Hawkeyes have learned to tune out the relentless stream of political messages, TV, radio and digital ads, phone calls and door knocks, which can start more than a year before the general election. But they’re also used to a respite from the electioneering activity once the election has passed. This year, most Iowans were probably hoping for a break from the noise, especially after a long and bruising 2020 campaign.  

However, the never-ending flow of dark money has made political ads a year-round reality, even in non-election years. And in a hotly contested swing district like Iowa’s third Congressional, voters can scarcely get through an episode of Wheel of Fortune or a morning news broadcast without seeing an attack ad funded by shadowy outside forces. The ads have become almost as ubiquitous as the commercials for sports betting sites. And it’s hard to believe it’s only September of a year ending in “-1” – and not even one before a presidential year. This is before a midterm election. 

One thing is clear: IA-03 is already a major electoral battleground gaining national attention. And the money is pouring in. 

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Trump pardons highlight GOP corruption problems

“Strong Island Hawk” reviews President Donald Trump’s recent pardons, which were largely political. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month President-De-Elect Donald Trump issued executive pardons for dozens of people, including many of his former campaign officials and Republican colleagues. Many of these pardons were entirely political and, what’s worse, they absolved individuals for acts of public corruption. When this happened, a thought crossed my mind: Is the Republican Party now entirely corrupt?

In fact, I think it’s an issue that goes unnoticed by the media and even by some Democrats: today’s Republican Party may be so thoroughly corrupt it’s nearly systemic.
No party holds a monopoly on ethical behavior; Democrats have certainly had their troubles over the years. But the GOP may be experiencing an era of unprecedented party-wide corruption. I want to look at a handful of the most political cases and examine how they demonstrate the GOP’s indifferent approach to government ethics. 

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The perils of outside money

Author’s Note from Strong Island Hawk: “Outside money” typically refers to super-PACs and dark money groups. “Independent expenditure only committees,” more commonly known as super-PACs, have no limits on contributions from individuals but are prohibited from donating to candidates or “coordinating” with them on strategy or messaging. “Dark money” groups are essentially charities organized under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code and are not required to publicly disclose their donors. These “social welfare” groups can spend certain amounts of their annual budget on political activity. See Issue One’s explainer.

Iowa Democrats are once again trying to figure out what went wrong after another election night full of defeats, including a loss for Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield. Greenfield was a weak candidate: she was yet another wealthy Des Moines real estate developer who was a political novice with no compelling message or agenda. And she was neither an electric speaker nor a sharp debater. But Iowans were never really given a choice.

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