IA-Sen: Matt Whitaker bolsters Trumpworld credentials

Although Senator Chuck Grassley is in no hurry to announce his future plans, former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker continues to lay the groundwork for a possible U.S. Senate bid in 2022.

He speaks at GOP gatherings around Iowa, most recently the Johnson County Republican fundraiser on May 5. And perhaps more important for his future prospects, Whitaker helped create the America First Legal organization, which will regularly engage the Biden administration in fights sure to please the Republican base.

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FEC backs ban on fundraising practice used by Trump, Hinson

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted unanimously on May 6 “to recommend that Congress ban political campaigns from guiding donors by default into recurring contributions through prechecked boxes,” Shane Goldmacher reported for the New York Times. It was a rare moment of bipartisan agreement for a commission that usually deadlocks on campaign finance regulations and enforcement.

President Donald Trump’s campaign popularized the technique in 2020, Goldmacher revealed in an investigation published last month. Pre-selecting the recurring contribution option led to record online fundraising, followed by a wave of complaints and huge demand for refunds from unwitting Trump donors.

Bleeding Heartland was first to report that the campaigns of Governor Kim Reynolds and and U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson (IA-01) are using the same practice.

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IA-Sen: Republicans not interested in Jim Carlin

After keeping a relatively low profile during his first few years in the Iowa legislature, State Senator Jim Carlin has been “loud and proud” this year on matters that might appeal to conservative Republicans.

Speaking on the Iowa Senate floor, Carlin has repeatedly alleged that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. He introduced a “bathroom bill” that became the first legislation targeting trans youth to make it through an Iowa House or Senate subcommittee. He led an effort to ban employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines, and turned a subcommittee hearing on that bill into a platform for airing anti-vaccination views. He introduced a bill that would have required state university employees to be surveyed about their political views.

Carlin announced in February that he would seek the 2022 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, whether or not Senator Chuck Grassley runs for re-election. In a campaign video, he declared, “Donald Trump made the Republican Party the party of working men and women,” and outlined “core beliefs” that hit everything on the usual conservative checklist. “I know the people of Iowa very well,” Carlin told Jacob Hall of The Iowa Standard in February. “I’ve literally represented the forgotten man for the last 30 years.”

Nevertheless, the people of Iowa have little apparent interest in his Senate bid.

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Exclusive: Iowa governor's campaign opts donors into recurring contributions

Governor Kim Reynolds’ campaign is using pre-checked boxes for online fundraising to drive supporters toward recurring monthly contributions as well as additional one-time gifts.

The donation pages, associated with Facebook and Twitter posts bashing President Joe Biden’s policies, recall “aggressive” tactics President Donald Trump’s campaign used last year. As Shane Goldmacher reported for the New York Times earlier this month, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee used pre-checked boxes to generate record-setting online fundraising in the summer and fall of 2020, followed by an unprecedented number of refunds to donors who felt duped.

Reynolds campaign representatives did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about the practice.

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