Questions remain on Iowa GOP couple's Saudi lobbying, political donations

Connie Schmett was registered as a foreign agent doing work on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through September 2017, a new filing shows. The revelation explains why Schmett and her husband, Kim Schmett, recently disclosed to the federal government a number of donations to Iowa Republican candidates and political committees they had made since March, when their work as consultants for the Qorvis/MSLGROUP previously appeared to have ended.

Several other curiosities related to Connie Schmett’s political giving remain unexplained.

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IA-01: Rod Blum trails generic Democrat, voters don't like tax bill

Voters in Iowa’s first district favor an unnamed Democrat over two-term Representative Rod Blum by 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling. Respondents in the same survey opposed the tax bill U.S. House Republicans approved last month by a 50 percent to 44 percent margin.

The Not One Penny coalition, formed in August to oppose any tax cuts “for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations,” commissioned the survey in IA-01 and five other Congressional districts. The group has also launched a new round of television commercials targeting Blum and Representative David Young in Iowa’s third district. Not One Penny previously ran television commercials in August in IA-01, IA-03, and six other Republican-held House districts.

Meanwhile, the End Citizens United political action committee confirmed yesterday that Blum is among the “Big Money 20” Congressional Republicans it will target in 2018.

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More questions emerge about Iowa Republican couple's political donations

Kim Schmett and Connie Schmett have filed additional paperwork with the U.S. Department of Justice to report political contributions since their October 2016 registration as foreign agents for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The documents listed the three donations Bleeding Heartland discussed here as well as some previously unknown campaign contributions. While checking those out, I noticed some oddities.

No answer at the Schmetts’ home number, where voice mail is not accepting new messages. Reached on his cell phone on November 20, Kim Schmett told me, “I’m not going to talk about it right now. It speaks for itself.”

Trust me: it doesn’t.

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DCCC backing Abby Finkenauer in IA-01

The main political arm of U.S. House Democrats is officially promoting Abby Finkenauer as its preferred candidate to take on Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first district.

Finkenauer was among the initial group named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program for this election cycle, as first reported by Roll Call’s Simone Pathe on November 15. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Representative Jimmy Panetta were featured guests at a Cedar Rapids fundraiser for Finkenauer’s campaign on November 19.

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IA-Gov: Fred Hubbell has big edge in name ID

Unusually early and extensive statewide advertising has paid off for Fred Hubbell’s gubernatorial campaign, a recent survey commissioned by Iowa Starting Line suggests. While about half the respondents said they are unsure how they will vote in the June 2018 primary, Hubbell was by far the best-known candidate among seven Democrats running for governor and had the most early support on a ballot test.

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Eddie Mauro makes seven Democrats running for Congress in IA-03

Eddie Mauro made it official today: he is a candidate for Congress in Iowa’s third district. I enclose below his announcement e-mail and biographical information from his campaign website. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter. He discussed his background and political philosophy further in a 2016 interview with Bleeding Heartland, when he was running for an Iowa House seat.

Mauro’s determination to join the Congressional race has been clear for months. Since forming an exploratory committee in July, he has met with or spoken to numerous neighborhood and constituency groups. He loaned his campaign $100,000 shortly before the end of the third quarter and raised $82,251.00 from several dozen other contributors.

In fact, as of September 30, Mauro was second only to Theresa Greenfield in money available to spend on the Democratic primary in IA-03. Mauro’s $161,899.06 cash on hand was some $14,000 higher than Greenfield’s, but seven of his donors maxed out with $2,700 contributions for both the primary and general elections. For that reason, $18,900 of his campaign funds can’t be spent until after the June 2018 primary.

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