Late yesterday, Dave Kochel issued a press release announcing the formation of Iowa Progress Project, a 501(c)(4) which will replace Iowa Future Fund. Iowa Future Fund is the mysterious organization running anti-Chet Culver ads. Iowa Progress Project is so new, it was only registered with the Iowa Secretary of State on 4/10/08.
Why Iowa Progress Project? Because it is similar to Iowa Policy Project, a respectable undertaking. Iowa Future Fund was the name of a lapsed Iowa Democratic PAC. In 2006, Republican operative Roger Stone sent out pro-Rick Santorum campaign mailers to Pennsylvania voters using Progressive Policy Council which was very similar to the left-leaning Progressive Policy Institute.
Replacing Iowa Future Fund with Iowa Progress Project might be a direct response to recent questions here in Bleeding Heartland and elsewhere in the blogospehere as to whether wealthy Iowan businessman, Bruce Rastetter, funded IFF.
Bruce Rastetter is president of Hawkeye Renewables which owns and operates four ethanol plants in Iowa. He also is invested in the wind energy industry. From what I have learned so far, Rastetter is partners with some very wealthy private investors on the East Coast through AltEnergy LLC, located in Royaton, Connecticut. Russell Stidolph, head of AltEnergy, has been operating in Iowa since at least 2003 and probably provided the financial backing for Hawkeye Renewables.
Nicholas T. “Nick” Ryan, Jim Nussle's long time campaign manager, now works for Bruce Rastetter. Ryan is somehow connected to AltEnergy LLC and uses the email address, nryan-at-altenergyllc.com. Ryan's p.o. box was listed on an American Future Fund ad buy in Minnesota.
From the IPP website:
“Des Moines, IA — Iowa Progress Project announced today its formal organization and outlined its goals and objectives in the near and long-term.
President David Kochel said, “Iowa Progress Project is the direct result of the response thousands of Iowans have had to ads and issues highlighted by the Iowa Future Fund. While the Iowa Future Fund has been very effective at highlighting important issues in our state, what was also abundantly clear is that a grassroots-centered conservative issues organization is also needed in this state. IPP will provide citizens from all corners of Iowa a voice in their community and state.”
IPP announced the following Board of Directors for the organization:
President: David Kochel
Director: Kathy Pearson
Director: Gary Grant
Gary Grant is possibly the vice-president of Public Affairs Co.
I'm not an Iowan but I am interested in IFF and IPP because they are linked to a well-organized national Republican program to misuse 501(c)(4)s during the upcoming election. 501(c)(4)s do not have to disclose their donors and can accept unlimited contributions.
American Future Fund and Iowa Future Fund were registered on 8/7/07 by top Republican operatives at Holtzman Vogel, a Virgnia law firm. AFF has been running pro-Norm Coleman ads in Minnesota and the Dems there have already filed an FEC complaint.
In the comments section of a TPM Cafe post about another Republican 501(c)(4), we are working out who, besides Bruce Rastetter, is behind American Future Fund.
I'll keep you posted!