Iowa Congressional 1Q fundraising news roundup

While many Americans dread tax day, April 15 holds a silver lining for political junkies: the chance to read the latest federal campaign finance reports. Follow me after the jump for details on the money raised and spent by Iowa’s five U.S. House incumbents and five challengers between January 1 and March 31. Note: at this writing, Dave Loebsack’s primary challenger Joe Seng had not filed a quarterly report with the Federal Election Commission. I will update this post if one appears. He may not have raised enough money yet to trigger reporting requirements.

Click here for the latest voter registration numbers in Iowa’s four new Congressional districts.


Three-term Democrat Bruce Braley coasted in 2008 and was slow to realize he had a serious challenge in 2010. In contrast, he has put much more effort into fundraising this cycle, and it shows in his FEC report. Braley raised $323,847.52 between January 1 and March 31. Of that total, $220,880.66 came from individuals (all but $50 itemized) and $102,966.86 came from a wide variety of political action committees (mostly corporate and labor).

I noticed that $5,432.00 in individual contributions came in small amounts through the Council for a Livable World, which supports Braley because of his stands on various war and peace issues.

Braley’s campaign reported spending $121,891.66 during the first quarter, which seems like a lot this early in the election year. Aside from salaries, the biggest campaign expenses were more than $21,000 during the quarter to Link Strategies, LLC for “strategic planning consulting services” and more than $21,000 to 4C Partners for fundraising consulting. Braley’s campaign had $828,532.78 cash on hand as of March 31.

Braley’s campaign released a statement on April 13 crowing about its fundraising success.

Waterloo, IA – The Bruce Braley for Congress campaign announced today that it will report having raised over $323,000 when it files its first quarter 2012 Federal Election Commission report, due April 15th.  The report will also show that the campaign has raised more than $1.4 million during the 2012 election cycle, and currently has more than $828,000 total cash on hand.  More than 2,000 Iowans have contributed to Braley’s campaign this cycle.

“Thanks to the support of more than 2,000 Iowa donors, Braley for Congress had the best first quarter we’ve ever had,” Braley for Congress campaign manager Molly Scherrman said.  “A record year followed by another record quarter shows just how much Iowans want someone in Congress working for us to break through the gridlock and create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and stand up for veterans.”

Braley raised more in the first quarter of 2012 than he has in any other comparable quarter since first running for Congress in 2006.

In January, Braley for Congress reported raising $1.1 million during 2011, the most ever raised by a 1st District Congressional candidate during a non-election year.

Braley leads both of his Republican challengers in cash on hand by a substantial margin, but it’s worth noting that the American Future Fund spent more than $1 million against Braley during the 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nick Ryan’s 501(c)4 spend a comparable amount in IA-01 this year. Ryan’s home town is in IA-01, and he ran GOP Representative Jim Nussle’s campaigns in this district before Nussle ran for governor and Braley won the open seat in 2006.

The Iowa GOP establishment favorite Ben Lange is far ahead of primary rival Rod Blum in fundraising. Lange’s FEC report shows $110,574.22 in contributions during the first three months of the year. Of that total, $105,574.22 came from individuals ($87,970.12 itemized, $17,604.10 unitemized). Another $5,000 came from the Freedom and Security PAC, affiliated with GOP Representative John Kline of Minnesota. Lange used to work as a Congressional staffer for Kline.

Lange’s campaign spent $43,319.97 during the first quarter, mostly on salaries and other routine campaign expenses. For instance, Lange spent more than $7,000 on website design and more than $8,000 on yard signs and decals. The campaign owes $3,295 in debts to the candidate for mileage costs, leaving $187,565.91 cash on hand as of March 31. Some of Lange’s donors have maxed out for the general election as well as the primary, so at least $10,000 of his funds can’t be used until after June 5 (if he wins).

Blum raised far less money during the first quarter than he did during the last two months of 2011. He reported $9,667.50 in contributions: $8,000 in itemized contributions from six donors, plus $755 in unitemized contributions and $912.50 from the candidate to cover mileage costs during campaign travel. Blum has raised nothing from PACs so far.

Blum was far more frugal than Lange, spending only $4,712.13 during the first quarter. That left him with $71,020.76 cash on hand as of March 31, which should be enough for some district-wide advertising and direct mail closer to the primary. However, $10,000 of Blum’s money can’t be used until after the primary (if he wins).

It still blows my mind that in this GOP primary, the 50-something experienced business owner is asking Republicans not to nominate the 30-something guy just because “it’s his turn.” Talk about a role reversal.


Like Braley, three-term Democrat Dave Loebsack stepped up his fundraising this cycle compared to 2010. His campaign reported raising $210,300.97 during the quarter: $98,522.02 from individuals ($76,985.00 itemized and $21,537.02 unitemized) and $111,778.95 from a wide variety of PACs (mostly business and labor, plus a few candidate committees).

Loebsack is in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program for vulnerable incumbents this year. As in late 2011, his campaign received significant help from other Democratic U.S. House members. This quarter Loebsack collected $1,000 each from the campaign committees of Henry Cuellar, Jackie Speier, Doris Matsui, Nita Lowey, and Diana Degette, $1,000 from the 3rd and Long PAC affiliated with Heath Shuler, $1,000 from the DUTCH PAC affiliated with Dutch Ruppersberger, $2,000 from Leonard Boswell’s BosPAC, $2,500 from the Solidarity PAC affiliated with George Miller, $2,000 from the Strengthen America PAC affiliated with John Tierney, and $2,000 from the Jobs and Innovation Matter PAC affiliated with Jim Himes.

Loebsack’s campaign spent $39,949.38 during the first quarter, less than any other Iowa incumbent. The expenditures went mostly toward staff salaries, fundraising and other routine campaign expenses. That left Loebsack with $622,312.14 cash on hand as of March 31.

As I mentioned above, Loebsack’s Democratic primary challenger Joe Seng had not filed an FEC report at this writing. I’ll be surprised if he raises a significant amount of money. The big question is how much will Loebsack spend down his campaign account before the June 5 primary. As things stand, Loebsack has a large money lead on both of his Republican challengers.

The last round of FEC reports showed that GOP candidate John Archer raised more money from individuals than his primary rival, but Dan Dolan led in cash on hand, thanks to a $75,000 loan from the candidate. During the first quarter of 2012, Archer and Dolan were closely matched on fundraising. Archer’s campaign reported raising $71,233.42, all from individuals. Dolan’s campaign raised $72,737.30, all from individuals.

The spending reports indicate very different strategies for the GOP candidates. Archer spent only $17,415.12 during the quarter, despite running a district-wide television commercial on Iowa caucus night and district-wide radio advertising in March. I didn’t see the radio ad expense listed on Archer’s expenditure report. Maybe the campaign wasn’t billed for that until this month.

Dolan’s campaign spent $66,945.98 between January 1 and March 31. I was surprised that to see that high a number, given that Dolan hasn’t gone up on the air. Instead, his campaign has spent more than $32,000 on direct mail.

Archer’s campaign had $127,206.89 cash on hand at the end of the quarter, a little more than Dolan’s $109,103.64. Both candidates will have enough money to wage a serious campaign before June 5. I am curious to see whether Dolan runs television or radio commercials closer to the primary date. During the 2010 GOP primary to represent IA-02, Mariannette Miller-Meeks didn’t air any television or radio commercials, choosing to focus on direct mail. She won more than 50 percent of the vote in a four-way primary. However, she went into that race with higher name recognition district-wide than either Archer or Dolan has now, because she had been the Republican nominee against Loebsack in 2008.


In Iowa’s clash of the incumbents, Republican Tom Latham continues to out-raise Democrat Leonard Boswell. As during the previous quarter, both Latham and Boswell raised far more money from PACs than from individuals.

Latham’s campaign received $399,274.00 in contributions during the first quarter. Of that total, $147,274.00 came from individuals ($125,211.00 itemized, $22,063.00 unitemized) and $252,000.00 from mostly corporate or conservative advocacy PACs.

A close friend of House Speaker John Boehner, Latham received help from many Republican Congressional colleagues, including $5,000 each from Paul Ryan’s Prosperity PAC, Hal Rogers’ HALPAC, Dave Camp’s CAMPAC, Lamar Smith’s Longhorn PAC, Devin Nunes’ NEW PAC, Patrick Tiberi’s Pioneer PAC, Senator Saxby Chambliss’ Republican Majority Fund, and Senator Susan Collins’ Dirigo PAC. Latham also received $3,000 each from Fred Upton’s Trust PAC and Greg Walden’s New Pioneers PAC, $2,500 from Senator John Thune’s Heartland Values PAC, $2,000 from Joe Barton’s Texas Freedom Fund, $1,500 each from Ed Whitfield’s Thoroughbred PAC and Phil Gingrey’s DOC PAC, and $1,000 each from Michele Bachmann’s Michele PAC, Shelley Moore Capito’s Wild and Wonderful PAC and Scott Garrett’s Supporting Conservatives of Today and Tomorrow PAC. Finally, Latham received $2,000 from Kay Granger’s campaign committee and $1,000 from Frank Lucas’ campaign committee. I can’t promise I didn’t miss a few other members of Congress in that very long list of Latham PAC donors.

Latham spent $338,793.57 during the first quarter, nearly as much as he raised. More than $140,000 went toward media buys, as the nine-term Republican sought to introduce himself to voters in central and southwest Iowa, whom he’s never represented before. Salaries and fundraising costs were also major expenses. Even so, Latham’s campaign had $1,988,112.32 cash on hand as of March 31.

Boswell had a strong fundraising quarter by his standards. Unfortunately for him, he’s not facing someone like Brad Zaun this year. His campaign’s FEC filing reports $213,136.69 in contributions between January 1 and March 31. This may be a first for my representative in Congress: Boswell raised more money from individuals ($146,083.00, including $120,700.00 itemized and $25,383.00 unitemized) than from PACs ($68,250.00).

Eight-term incumbent Boswell is a perennial presence on the DCCC’s Frontline, and he received a lot of help from fellow House Democrats during the first quarter. In addition to $1,000 from the DCCC itself, Boswell collected $1,000 each from the campaign committees of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Cuellar, Jackie Speier, Rosa DeLauro, Nita Lowey, Heath Shuler, and Diana Degette, $2,000 from Henry Waxman’s campaign committee, $2,000 from Dave Loebsack’s I-PAC, $2,000 from the Strengthen America PAC affiliated with John Tierney, and $1,000 from the Victory in November Election “VINEPAC” affiliated with Mike Thompson.

Boswell’s campaign spent $63,003.75 during the quarter, a lot less than Latham. Nothing jumped out at me on his itemized disbursements. Boswell’s campaign ended the quarter with $644,086.83 cash on hand, which wouldn’t be a problem if he were facing the kind of under-funded Republican challengers he’s drawn in the past. It has to be discouraging for him to see Latham sitting on three times as much cash.

Several outside groups have already aired television commercials attacking Latham. Even with that help, Boswell will struggle to keep pace with Latham in media and field operations. He has to hope for strong GOTV by President Barack Obama’s campaign in Polk County. Republicans now have a voter registration advantage in IA-03, but Democrats still have the edge in Iowa’s most populous county.


The challenge from former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack has pushed five-term Republican Steve King to focus on raising more money this cycle than ever before. Vilsack out-raised the incumbent during the second quarter and fourth quarter of 2011. King raised more money than his opponent in the third quarter of last year and in the quarter that just ended.

King’s latest FEC filing reports $446,476.28 in contributions between January 1 and March 31. Of that total, $391,226.28 came from individuals ($238,201.02 itemized, $153,025.26 unitemized), $3,000 came from party committees (the Monona and Lyon County Republicans), and $52,750.00 from corporate and conservative advocacy PACs. $58,766.76 of King’s donations from individuals were earmarked through the Club for Growth’s PAC.

I was impressed that King raised more during the first quarter than Latham did, even though Latham got far more help from fellow House Republicans. King’s campaign received $5,000 from Patrick McHenry’s House Conservatives Fund and $2,000 from Kansas for Huelskamp. Maybe King’s not as well-liked as Latham on Capitol Hill, or maybe House Republicans aren’t as concerned about the race in IA-04 as they are about IA-03.

King’s campaign spent $166,111.93 during the first quarter, mostly on marketing, fundraising, direct mail, advertising, or consulting. King never hires a large campaign staff but has son Jeff King and daughter-in-law Lindsay King on salary.  As of March 31, the incumbent had $809,854.44 cash on hand.

Vilsack didn’t quite match King in fundraising on the latest report but had more cash on hand with seven months to go in the campaign. Her FEC filing reported $395,060.83 in total contributions: $331,863.30 from individuals ($232,546.00 itemized and $99,317.30 unitemized), $697.53 from political party committees and $62,500.00 from PACs. Vilsack received $8,382.30 in individual donations earmarked through EMILY’s List, which supports pro-choice, Democratic women candidates.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee gave Vilsack’s campaign only $557.53 in in-kind expenses during the quarter, but various House and Senate Democrats chipped in to help too. The “centrist” New Democrat Coalition PAC gave $10,000 during the quarter. Vilsack also received $2,000 from Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Congress, $1,000 from Donna Edwards for Congress, $1,000 each from Steve Israel’s New York Jobs PAC, Earl Blumenauer’s Committee for a Livable Future PAC, and Sander Levin’s Grassroots Organizing Acting and Leading PAC. Delaware Senator Tom Carper’s First State PAC gave Vilsack $2,500, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Empire PAC gave $1,000, and Delaware Senator Chris Coons’ Blue Hen PAC gave $500.

Vilsack’s campaign spent $238,186.24 during the first quarter, which seems like a high burn rate. She has hired more staffers than King, so salaries were a major expense. The campaign paid Yost Gold Consulting $18,000 and Link Strategies $12,000 during the quarter for fundraising consulting. One unusual expenditure caught my eye: payments totaling more than $23,000 to the VR Research company for “research consulting fees” and expenses. Click here for more information on that firm’s political work, which purports to help “political consultants distinguish their clients from the people they run against.”

As of March 31, Vilsack’s campaign had $905,427.16 cash on hand, which is more than the combined fundraising of King’s five previous Democratic opponents.

Outside groups are getting involved in the IA-04 race on both sides. In recent weeks I’ve heard radio commercials in the Des Moines market by some conservative group supporting King. (Sorry, no script or details–I can’t take notes while driving.) The Credo super-PAC, which announced plans to target King in January, now has staff on the ground in IA-04 and will hold an office grand opening in Ames later this month.

UPDATE: Here’s the 60-second radio ad supporting “the Republican House budget” and Steve King, paid for by the 501(c)4 organization Americans for Prosperity. My transcript:

Female voice-over (with ominous-sounding background music): Why do we send our representatives to Congress? We expect them to make the tough decisions to preserve America’s future.

But years of broken promises and reckless spending have set us on a catastrophic financial path. For the fourth year in a row, President Obama’s budget has a trillion-dollar deficit, and Democrats in the Senate refuse to even offer a budget.

(background music becomes more upbeat) Voice-over continues:

But House Republicans have passed a budget that cuts spending, reduces waste, and puts America on a path to a balanced budget. The Republican budget strengthens and reforms Medicare, so seniors are protected and Medicare is strong for future generations. The Republican House budget makes tough decisions today to protect hard-working taxpayers and preserve the American way of the life for the future.

Call Congressman Steve King, 712-224-4692. Thank him for voting for a budget that cuts spending and strengthens Medicare. Paid for by Americans for Prosperity.

Final notes on the Congressional fundraising: of Iowa’s five U.S. House incumbents, Braley, Boswell and King raised more money from individuals than from PACs during the first quarter. All of the challengers raised more from individuals than from PACs. Loebsack and Latham raised more from PACs than from individuals.

Senator Tom Harkin’s TOMPAC gave $2,500 each to the campaigns of Braley, Loebsack, Boswell, and Vilsack.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

P.S.- One other fundraising news item may interest Bleeding Heartland readers: as of late March, Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley of the FAMiLY Leader were still getting paid by the small super-PAC they organized to support Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign.

UPDATE: Bret Hayworth discussed the Vilsack and King fundraising reports here. King had more individual donors who live in IA-04, including many large donors in northwest Iowa.

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  • Link Strategies?

    …is that not the firm that came up with the ridiculous brochure with the woman in the retirement home for Project Destiny (“I will save so much in my property taxes if this passes”)…?

    The unions HATED this plan and voted to strongly oppose the doomed Project Destiny tax and spend plan that this PR firm was in charge of marketing……..

    For Vilsack to pay and use this same firm for her strategy is a slap in the face to unions and members across this state.

    • mirage, sometimes you try too hard

      The Project Destiny referendum went down in flames in July 2007. Link Strategies has done consulting work for many Democratic candidates since then, and this is a total non-issue for organized labor.

      I know you like to put a bad spin on things for Democrats, but this line is not credible.

  • project destiny

    ahhhh, a golden oldie…one the most ill conceived, mis-timed and poorly executed initiatives ever undertaken.  It got…what?….20%????

    • closer to 15 percent

      In fact, “yes” didn’t hit 20 percent in a single Polk County municipality. It was a bad idea.

    • but.....

      ….according to desmoinesdem, there should be NO issue with Vilsack using a firm that led “one of the most ill conceived, mis-timed and poorly executed initiatives ever undertaken” as her paid strategist.  With all of the other strategy firms in this state, this appears to be the worst choice.

      But each to their own.

      • many Iowa Dem candidates use this firm

        Hiring a political consultant doesn’t mean endorsing every other campaign that consultant has worked on. You know that already, you’re just trying to stir up trouble on my blog.