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Gronstal et. al. Beholden to $$$

Be sure to read today’s op-ed piece in the “DM Register” by Barb Kalbach. Also, leave a comment to show your support. It’s pretty clear where our Democrat Leaders stand on VOICE and why. They need to be held accountable for this bill. Between VOICE and CAFO, should both of these bills die in committee, could leave a black stain on the new Dem. Majority’s first session.


Pass public financing for Iowa campaigns



In his leadership position, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal raises exorbitant amounts of cash and doles it out to candidates as he sees fit.

According to the Institute on Money in State Politics, Gronstal raised more than $500,000 in the 2006 election cycle. More than 75 percent of the money raised for his committee during that period, $426,250, was contributed to the Iowa Democratic Party.

Gronstal’s ability to raise and allocate campaign cash is how he retains his power and influence in the Senate. He raised more money than any Senate candidate in the 2006 cycle – and he wasn’t up for re-election.

Now Gronstal and his colleagues are going to create a 527 committee, named for its designation in the IRS tax code. A 527 is created primarily to influence elections through the use of “issue advocacy” ads that avoid regulation by the Federal Election Commission. These groups raise practically unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations. Since a 527 is not required to report its source of funds to the FEC, the industries and interests giving money to these groups are seldom disclosed.

Gronstal told the Register that he doesn’t approve of 527s, but said, “Even though I don’t necessarily like the rules, I’ll play by the rules as effectively as my competitors.” The competitor he’s referring to is Rep. Christopher Rants, the House Republican leader who has successfully used his Iowa Leadership Council to raise large amounts of money from the beer, tobacco and car-title loan industries, among others.

Our elections don’t have to be this way – high-stakes shoot-outs between wealthy interests. A bill in the Legislature, modeled on the successful Clean Elections programs in seven states and two municipalities, puts the concerns of voters ahead of well-heeled special interests.

Called the Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections Act, or VOICE, the bill is championed by Rep. Pam Jochum and Sen. Mike Connolly. VOICE would implement a system of public financing for legislative and statewide campaigns.

Modeled on successful systems in Maine, Arizona and North Carolina, the VOICE Act would provide public funds sufficient to run a competitive campaign to candidates who qualify by showing broad-based community support. That would require collecting a set number of $5 donations. Once qualified, VOICE candidates must agree to adhere to strict spending limits and forgo all private fundraising.

As of January 2007, more than 200 elected officials across the country hold office as a result of a Clean Elections system, including 84 percent of the Maine Legislature and nine of 11 statewide officials in Arizona. Gov. Janet Napolitano has used the system for both of her gubernatorial campaigns.

Clean Elections is also taking hold on the national stage. Last month, bipartisan legislation called the Fair Elections Now Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. It would bring full public financing of elections to all congressional races.

Should the VOICE Act bring this opportunity to Iowa, Gronstal and others could spend their time focusing on the concerns and issues that matter to voters instead of dialing for dollars and courting big-money contributors to fill both their candidate and 527 campaign accounts.

BARB KALBACH is president of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

VOICE Press Release

With only two weeks remaining in the legislative session, it’s imperative that you contact your Rep. and Democratic leaders and VOICE your support for Clean Elections. Gronstal, Murphy, and McCarthy have the power, should they choose to use it, to help push this bill out of the House Appropriations subcommitee, where it’s been “put on hold” by 3 House members. So the fate of this bill, despite the overwhelming bipartisan support of Iowans, is up to these three people? It appears our leaders want this bill to die in committee. This does not send a good message to voters. Why would anyone be against Clean Elections? Nopne of the answers to this question bode well for those who plan on running for office again. Your Rep. may tell you there’s no funding for VOICE, but his isn’t altogether true, given it would be less than .01 of the overall budge, a drop in the bucket compared to what’s being spent on elections every election cycle. If it’s good policy, good will leaders make it happen. Let our leaders know that you’re watching.

Our elected officials need to hear from us. At the very least this bill should be passed out of committee and debated on the floors of the House and Senate. We, the People, deserve this consideration, otherwise the stifling of our VOICES will only serve to futher erode Democracy and our faith in the political process.

Cut and paste this code to find your legislator and send them an e-mail:…

The Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE) Act

House File 805 & Senate File 553


The Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE) Act would create voluntary full public financing for legislative and statewide elections.  Candidates would qualify for enough public funds to run a competitive campaign after showing broad based community support by collecting a set number of $5 contributions from within their district. Once qualified, VOICE candidates would agree to adhere to strict spending limits and forego all private fundraising.

In a contested general election, VOICE candidates would receive:

? $3 million for a team running for governor and lieutenant governor.

? $200,000 for a statewide office other than governor & lieutenant governor.

? $40,000 for the Iowa state Senate.

? $30,000 for the Iowa state House of Representatives.


Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE) is a system that would free candidates from the campaign money chase and allow them to spend their time talking with constituents instead of shuttling from fundraiser to fundraiser. VOICE is modeled on the successful systems in Maine, Arizona, and North Carolina. This past January, more than 200 elected officials took office across the country who have run and won with a publicly funded campaign. Also known as Clean Elections, the system has proven its worth. In Maine, 84 percent of the legislature is held by a Clean Elections candidate. In Arizona, nine of 11 statewide officials, including Gov. Janet Napolitano, used the system to win their race.

VOICE will allow Iowans to run for office without having to worry about raising large amounts of money or having insider political access. VOICE would limit unnecessary spending by placing contribution limits on donors. If a participating candidate is outspent by a privately financed candidate or is a target of independent expenditure committees, rescue funds are available to keep the race on a level playing field.

By allowing candidates to run without having to raise money from well-heeled political contributors, Iowans would be secure in the knowledge that their elected officials are working to address the needs of all Iowans and not just those who can afford to write $1,000 checks. Iowans deserve a system where people matter more, and money matters less. Iowans want Voter Owned Clean Elections.

VOICE Needs your help!

From the Inbox: ICCI

VOICE needs your help!

An update from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

April 3, 2007

24 days left to pass VOICE!

The legislative session ends April 27.  We have a historic opportunity to pass a Voter-Owned Iowa Clean Elections Bill.  This bill would provide public financing for all state elections.  This system would allow the VOICE of everyday people to be heard on the critical issues that affect us – like our communities, clean air and water, and predatory lending. 

But we need your help!  In order to make this happen the legislature must hear from us.  We are looking for lots of volunteers to help us in the next month.  This is an excellent opportunity for us to talk, act, and get things done! 

Here’s what you can do:

Contact your state Senator and Representative.  Click here for an easy contact form with talking points.

Phone bank!  Phone banking is a great way for us to spread the word beyond our membership.  It’s a great opportunity to meet other CCI members and spread the word about this important legislation.  Food will be provided.  There will be several phone banks taking place – both during the day and at night – at the CCI office in Des Moines .  E-mail if you would like more information.  We need you!

Walk.  We are looking for volunteers to spend a few hours on any Saturday this month to go door to door to spread the message on clean elections.  E-mail if you would like to help.

Learn.  For more information on what VOICE is, visit 

Contact information

For more information, go to or call 515.282.0484.


Obama Defies the $ Numbers Game

This was originally a repsonse to BH post, “Fundraising Numbers.” by Simon Stevenson:

Good for Obama for not playing into the media-frenzied money numbers game by not releasing his exact numbers. “Given that everyone else has” is yet another reason that will help distinguish Obama from “everyone else.” Knowing that he’s competing against the money-churning DLC McCauliffe-money machine,Obama’s taken the right approach to undrrmining the $ horse race by not providing the media with something quantifiable to salivate over — and salivate they did.

Obama’s aids have noted that he’s raised over $20 million, which puts him on the heels of Hillary and has helped up the anxiety levels of the Clinton campaign. Obama announced his candidacy after Hillary and has quickly closed the money gap, especially since Hillary has been running for president since, say, middle school.

The more important number that Obama’s committed to focusing on and did release is the number of people who donated money. In this area he dwarfed Hillary by roughly 30,000 donors, and it’s this number that more realisitically translates to votes. When evaluating these numbers, voters may see that Obama has more supporters and the smaller monetary number indicates that Obama’s drawing less from big donors. Whether this is true or not is besides the point; it’s all about public perception and this works as a good medium spin. Not to mention, contributors who donated once are more likely to contribute again, which works in Obama’s favor.

I’m not convinced reporting these numbers merits positive press, but rather, helps feed the public’s disgust with how much money is being raised and spent on the presidential campaign. And regarding your notion about positive press for Obama, I think you should revisit the news today.

“The New York Times” has a positive aricle about Obama adorned on its front page: “Obama Built Donor Network From Roots Up.”

Ariana Huffington took the media to task, casting Obama in a favorable light:  “Follow the Real Money”

In the political fallout of yesterday’s annoncement, it appears Obama may be the big winner.

Unfortunately, all of this undermines the problems regarding campaign finance and how it desparately needs to be reformed. In this light, the losers are the media (who continually perpetuate and exacerbate this problem), while the big losers remain the American people — in particular those of us who cannot afford to buy influence in D.C.

The only Democratic candidates I’ve heard that have vowed to address this problem if elected president are Obama and Edwards. Please comment if others ahve taken an active stance on this. Had Hillary not scheduled a town hall meeting in Iowa City today during the work day, when most working people cannot take off work and particpate in a “conversation,” I would’ve gone and asked Hillary point blank where she stands on this issue and what would she do about it if elected?

Jacoby's Response to my E-mail

I’m not buying this. I plan on looking into where Dave gets this $10 million dollar price tag. If anyone has insights to this, please let me know.


Policy wise, it is a good bill (that needs to be less complicated). I

voted for it in State Gov’t.

We are stuck with the $10 million price tag, and where that money would

come from.

In other words, what do we not fund (education, mental health, Power


Thank you for the e-mail!


Update on $10 million price tag:

I just combed through the VOICE bill (HF 805) and found where Jacoby came up with the $10 million price tag. The latter is a start up fund that would be used to finance Clean Elections. The fund would be drawn down to finance Clean Elections and would be replenish with an optional income tax check off, qualifying contributions, unused seed money, voluntary contributions to the Clean Election fund, and other methods. After each election cycle, if the fund is in the red, or under the $10 million benchmark, it’s up to the general assembly to replenish these funds, presumably drawing down on the general fund.

Given the voluntary basis of most incoming revenues, it looks like the Clean Elections fund would more than likely be in the red. It seems this needs more teeth in it. I thought other states mandated the $5 fee for all person filing an income tax. I could see how this might dissuade some of our leaders from putting this into the bill, but if funding it is the only thing standing between the bill becoming law, it’s time for our leaders to step up and take a stand.

I also found it that the only lobbyists who declared against this bill were two lobbyists representing the ACLU. What would their rationale be for doing so? I’m confused.

Voter-Owned Iowa’s Take on funding “Clean Elections”:

It is estimated that Iowa could have a fully funded Voter-Owned Elections system for $10 million per year, or less than 1/10 of 1% of our state’s annual budget.

There are several possible ways to pay for a Voter-Owned Elections system. Bipartisan committees are currently considering several options. Some examples are:

• $5 qualifying contributions.

• Voluntary income tax check-off.

• Excess seed money raised by candidates trying to decide if they should run.

• Voluntary donations.

• Fines levied by the state’s campaign disclosure board.

• Other sources determined by the state legislature.

My take: if it’s makes good policy, Dave, then good leadership should make it work, and if coming up with a $10 million start up fund (less than .01 of our state’s budget) is all it takes, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

My "Clean Elections Letter" to Reps.

Dear Iowa Legislators,

I am writing to voice my support of VOICE (HF 805 & SF 553), and I’m urging you to do the same next week when the bill comes up in committee. Given the significant influence of money in electoral politics as of late, the time for “Clean Elections” is long overdue. The public’s faith and trust in government has been gradually eroding and VOICE would be a significant first step in damming up the erosion and begin rebuilding public trust in our elected officials and the Democratic process. “Clean Elections” exemplifies the underlying principals of the Democratic Party. Although, through discussions with Republican friends, colleagues, and family members, I’ve learned that VOICE is not a partisan issue. When explained how “Clean Elections” works, I have yet to meet an Iowa Voter, Republican or Democrat, who would not support the bill.

Now that the Democrats have the majority power, it’s time to stand up and reverse the trend of politics as usual, and at the very least, help get VOICE out of committee where the bills merits can be discussed and debated on the House and Senate floors. Iowa Voters deserve this consideration, and I hope you will use your leadership skills to help make this happen.

I look forward to your support and hearing back from you regarding your thoughts on this subject. Thanks for your time.

T.M. Lindsey

Ed Fallon's Letter on "Clean Elections"

In case you have yet to read Ed Fallon’s letter advocating for a call to action regarding “Clean Elections” and Hog Lts Local Control.

Dear Friends,

Despite overwhelming support from citizens and community leaders, two

of the most important pieces of legislation of the 2007 session are on

life support at the Statehouse.  HF 805 (SF 553), the Voter-Owned Iowa

Clean Elections law (VOICE), and HF 873, a bill regulating CAFOs, have

seen steady progress but now face strong opposition.

The VOICE bill is in an Appropriations sub-committee comprised of Rep.

Dave Jacoby (D-chair), Rep. Jo Oldson (D) and Rep. Dwayne Alons (R). 

It will come up for a vote in that committee either next Tuesday (3/27)

or Wednesday (3/28).  If passed, it then goes to the full committee and

becomes “funnel-proof.”  That means the likelihood for debate on

the floor of the House increases.  However, we learned yesterday that the

Appropriations sub-committee plans to “kill” the bill, at the

request of leadership. 

The same kind of situation exists for the CAFO bill (HF 873).  It seems

the bill has been sent to a sub-committee with instructions from

leadership to “kill” it.  Members of that committee are Mike Reasoner

(D-chair), Delores Mertz (D), Helen Miller (D), Jack Drake (R) and Steve

Olson (R). 

Adam Mason of CCI and I (Lynn Heuss) have lobbied at the Capitol on

several occasions.  It is, at times, satisfying work and at other times

exasperating.  Yesterday’s lobbying expedition fits into the

exasperating category.  BUT – we’re not giving up, and neither should you!

Some of the good things that have happened this week:

•On Wednesday, Ed Fallon met with former Governor Tom Vilsack, who

offered to help encourage support for HF 805 (VOICE).  Ed also met with

Governor Culver last week, who agreed to call a few lawmakers to

encourage their support of the bill.

•Senator John Edwards was in Des Moines this Tuesday and met with

House Democrats.  He addressed several important issues, including

campaign finance reform.

•Many community leaders who donate significantly to Democratic

campaigns are signing on to support passage of HF 805.

•Former congressmen Berkley Bedell (D) and Jim Leach (R) are

collaborating on a joint letter in support of HF 805.

•In our lobbying efforts, Adam and I met with several House

Republicans, and some said they will consider supporting the bill.

•The coalition of citizens groups working to better regulate CAFOs is

running full-page ads in targeted newspapers across Iowa to bring

attention to HF 873.

•This coalition has also hired four lobbyists, who continue to

pressure lawmakers to support HF 873.

Three Democratic House members – Pam Jochum, Mark Kuhn and Marcie

Frevert – have been working tirelessly to advocate for these bills.  But

they can’t do it alone.  We must join the fight.

We need to inundate with calls and e-mails the legislative leaders who

control the fate of these two bills.  Please call or write.  If your

representative isn’t on one of the sub-committees, you can still call

or write Rep. Pat Murphy (House Speaker), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (House

Majority Leader) or Senator Mike Gronstal (Senate Majority Leader). 

Everyone needs to contact those three leaders, and if you are in a district

represented by any of the lawmakers listed below, please let them know

you support these bills.  Then ask everyone else you know to do the


It’s time to clean up our air, our water and our elections.  Thanks

in advance for your help.

Lynn Heuss

VOICE – HF 805  CAFO Regulation – HF 873

Appropriations Sub-Committee  Agriculture Sub-Committee

Rep. Dave Jacoby (D)  Rep. Mike Reasoner (D)

House District 30 — Johnson County House District 95 – Union County

Home Telephone: 319-358-8538  Home Telephone: 641-782-2693

Rep. Jo Oldson (D)  Dolores Mertz (D)

House District 61 — Polk County  House District 8 – Kossuth County

Home Telephone: 515-255-2805  Home Telephone: 515-887-2952

Rep. Dwayne Alons (R)  Rep. Helen Miller (D)

House District 4 — Sioux County  House District 49 – Webster County

Home Telephone: 712-439-2479 
  Rep. Jack Drake (R) 
  House District 57 — Pottawattamie
  Home Telephone: 712-784-3538

  Rep. Steve Olson (R) 
  House District 83 – Clinton County
  Home Telephone: 563-659-9096

  Speaker of the House

  Rep. Pat Murphy (D)

  House District 28 – Dubuque County

  Home Telephone: (563) 582-5922
  House Telephone: (515) 281-5566

  House Majority Leader

  Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D)
  House District 67 – Polk County
  Home Telephone: (515) 953-5221
  House Telephone: (515) 281-7497

  Senate Majority Leader

  Senator Mike Gronstal (D)
  Senate District 50 — Pottawattamie
  Home Telephone: (712) 328-2808
  Business Telephone: (515) 281-3901

House Switchboard to reach all State Representatives:  (515) 281-3221

Hillary Gets Her Apology War On

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

It sounds like Camp Hillary has slipped into attack mode, projecting her own inabilities to offer up an apology for her vote to authorize war in Iraq.

Wherever she goes, she’s perpetually dogged by voters, calling for her to admit she made a mistake, take responsibility for her actions, and offer up an apology to the American people. In Nevada today, all her other rivals called upon her to do so, but Hillary has drawn a political line in the sand saying she won’t apologize.

So Hillary wants Obama to apologize for comments made by one of his supporters, yet she’s not willing to apologize for relinquishing her senatorial powers to declare war. Her vote surrendered her constitutional responsibility to maintain Congress’s role for declaring war, sacrificing the checks-and-balances protections in the process. As a voter in Iowa, I’m more concerned about seeing Hillary disavow her role in helping lay the groundwork for the Iraq War and all of her subsequent comments regarding this action than I am about Obama disavowing a supporter’s remarks. If Obama had to apologize for every personal attack on Hillary coming from somebody who happens to support his candidacy, he’d have no time left to campaign on what’s actually important.

P.S. I’m not sorry for any of the aforementioned comments.

T.M. Lindsey

Political Fallout