Rod Blum's internet business, other firms tout identical "success stories"

The Dubuque-based company mostly owned by U.S. Representative Rod Blum touts the same 11,000 clients and verbatim “success stories” as several other firms offering search engine optimization (SEO) services around the country.

Tin Moon‘s existence and connection to Blum became widely known this week following coverage by the Associated Press. Todd McCally, listed on Tin Moon’s website as “Chief Technology Officer and Director of SEO Activity and Research,” holds similar titles for at least four other companies, several of which promote the same customer testimonials.

The founders of two such firms told Bleeding Heartland today that they and Tin Moon were “affiliates” of McCally’s parent company, GetMePlacement.com.

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Rod Blum's undisclosed, shady company used Congressional staffer for fake ad

How many unscrupulous practices can one member of Congress engage in with one small business in less than two years?

Quite a few, as Ryan Foley showed in a scoop with an incredible lede: “A congressman from Iowa violated House ethics rules by failing to disclose his role in a company that he formed, a mysterious outfit that uses his top federal staffer in a false testimonial promoting its services, an Associated Press review shows.”

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Hear John Delaney's early pitch to Iowa Democrats

Two years before the 2020 Iowa caucuses, U.S. Representative John Delaney of Maryland is already investing heavily in reaching voters here. Delaney visited Iowa for the first time within weeks of announcing his presidential candidacy last July. This past weekend, he made his sixth swing through the state, attending events in Cedar, Dubuque, Clinton, Clayton, Delaware, Jackson, and Scott counties.

Most Iowans will be introduced to Delaney through his television commercials. His debut ad aired during the Super Bowl in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Sioux City markets. The second spot began running on February 5 as “part of a million-dollar, month-long Iowa television buy,” according to a campaign news release. I enclose below videos and transcripts of both commercials.

Hundreds of Democratic activists have already heard Delaney at a meet and greet or local party event where he was a featured speaker. I recorded his speech at the Third Congressional District Hall of Fame dinner last October. The second part of this post contains the sound file and a transcript of key passages.

Finally, I asked Delaney to react to some activists’ concern that a sharper focus on issues white working-class voters care about could make Democratic candidates less committed to other stances, which are critically important to segments of the party’s base.

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IA-Gov: Latest Nate Boulton spot pitches for older voters

Six of the 23 current state lawmakers who have endorsed Senator Nate Boulton for governor speak on his behalf in a television commercial that began airing today in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets. It’s the second spot Bolton’s campaign has released as part of a buy that will run through the February 5 precinct caucuses, at which Democratic activists will elect county convention delegates.

The ad appears to be designed to shore up Boulton’s support among older Democrats, who make up a larger portion of Iowa’s electorate than many people realize.

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"Everybody in, nobody left out": Cathy Glasson spotlights universal health care

Declaring that health care is a “fundamental human right,” and “Iowa should lead the way,” Cathy Glasson is taking her message to Iowa television viewers, beginning January 18. Single-payer health care reform has been a central theme of Glasson’s stump speeches since she began exploring a gubernatorial campaign. Her stance on that issue was a key factor in attracting endorsements from some progressive organizations and many activists who caucused for Bernie Sanders in 2016. It even helped Glasson win over television and movie actor Piper Perabo (hat tip to Christian Ucles). As Gavin Aronsen observed in this Iowa Informer profile, “lefty media outlets” with a national audience “have taken notice of Glasson’s grassroots campaign” too, in part because of her vocal support for Medicare for All.

I enclose below the video and transcript of “Heart,” which will air in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets, according to a campaign news release. The spot is a good way for Glasson to distinguish herself from the rest of the field. Among her six rivals for the nomination, only Jon Neiderbach is also on record supporting single-payer health care. Neiderbach is unlikely to have the funds for substantial television advertising before the primary, though. I am seeking further details on how Glasson envisions creating a state-level universal health care system to replace private insurance and will update this post as needed.

Glasson is the third Democratic gubernatorial candidate to run tv ads this year, after Fred Hubbell and Nate Boulton. Two factors are driving the unusually early start for paid advertising. The upcoming Iowa precinct caucuses will be the first step in a convention process that may select the Democratic nominee, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary. In a departure from usual practice during non-presidential years, many Democratic caucuses will divide into preference groups based on the governor’s race on February 5. Field organizers and volunteers for the various contenders are working hard to turn their people out, because supporters of viable candidates will be able to elect county convention delegates.

Glasson can afford to pay for television commercials now without depleting her resources. Entities affiliated with the Service Employees International Union have contributed at least $1.8 million to her campaign so far, Iowa Starting Line reported on January 16.

UPDATE: Our Revolution, the national group that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, endorsed Glasson on January 18. In a statement, executive director Shannon Jackson said, “We are proud to support a progressive candidate like Cathy who has such strong ties to the labor community. From her work with the SEIU, to her activism on issues like raising the minimum wage and providing universal health care, Cathy has set herself apart from the competition. Having lived in Iowa her entire life, Cathy knows the needs of the working-class people of all backgrounds. Cathy is a proven leader who will work to ensure all Iowans have access to a good paying job, affordable housing, and quality health care.”

The Iowa CCI Action Fund, which endorsed Glasson in September, announced on January 18 that it will spend $40,000 to support her campaign over the next five months. “The funds will go towards statewide communications as well as grassroots field organizing in seven key counties: Story, Boone, Hardin, Sac, Guthrie, Adair, and Poweshiek.” The SEIU political action committee donated $30,000 to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement in October, funds that will support Iowa CCI’s state PAC. I sought comment from CCI on the funding and endorsement process; scroll to the end of this post for the group’s reply.

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Fred Hubbell, Nate Boulton up on tv ahead of Iowa caucuses

For the first time in Iowa history, multiple gubernatorial candidates are airing television commercials four and a half months before the primary. Fred Hubbell’s campaign launched its fourth statewide tv ad last week, while the first spot for Democratic rival Nate Boulton hits the screens today in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets. UPDATE: Cathy Glasson has placed a television ad buy too. Iowa Starting Line reported today that committees affiliated with the Service Employees International Union have donated $1,819,931 to Glasson’s campaign already.

The new Hubbell ad references the themes of his campaign’s first three spots: support for Planned Parenthood, mental health funding, and better economic development practices. (Bleeding Heartland published those videos here, here, and here.) Boulton’s commercial highlights his role leading the opposition to Republican efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights during last year’s legislative session. Scroll down for details on both ads.

Hubbell has been on the air for months, having raised well over $1 million since last summer. Boulton’s campaign war chest is likely to be substantially smaller–we’ll know for sure when all the 2017 finance reports are published later this week. While candidates normally conserve their cash to use on television and radio spots closer to the primary, Boulton has good reason to spend some money now.

The Iowa Democratic precinct caucuses are coming up on Monday, February 5. Caucus-goers will elect county convention delegates, who in turn will select district and state delegates at county conventions on March 24. With seven Democrats running for governor, state convention delegates may end up selecting the nominee on June 16, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary.

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