The perils of outside money

Author’s Note from Strong Island Hawk: “Outside money” typically refers to super-PACs and dark money groups. “Independent expenditure only committees,” more commonly known as super-PACs, have no limits on contributions from individuals but are prohibited from donating to candidates or “coordinating” with them on strategy or messaging. “Dark money” groups are essentially charities organized under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code and are not required to publicly disclose their donors. These “social welfare” groups can spend certain amounts of their annual budget on political activity. See Issue One’s explainer.

Iowa Democrats are once again trying to figure out what went wrong after another election night full of defeats, including a loss for Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield. Greenfield was a weak candidate: she was yet another wealthy Des Moines real estate developer who was a political novice with no compelling message or agenda. And she was neither an electric speaker nor a sharp debater. But Iowans were never really given a choice.

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The Joni Ernst/Chuck Grassley combo in Iowa's U.S. Senate races

Herb Strentz explores rhetoric from Iowa’s 2014 and 2020 U.S. Senate campaigns and finds parallels between our two Republican senators. -promoted by Laura Belin

Labor Day in even-numbered years usually brings more public interest in politics and the final stage of hopeful campaigns for Congress or the presidency.

This time around, many are driven by dread — dread of elections past, and, oh yeah, fears for the one coming on November 3.

Small wonder, given what “We the people” have inflicted upon ourselves.

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Ernst's words don't match actions on COVID-19 relief for fossil fuels industry

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst told members of the Iowa Farmers Union in June that she’d prefer for fossil fuel companies not to be eligible for COVID-19 relief funds.

However, months earlier she was among only two farm state senators to sign a letter aimed at ensuring that oil, gas, and coal companies would have access to federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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Loretta Sieman on the public option and why she's in that ad

Industry-funded groups have recently spent more than a million dollars on television and online advertising in Iowa opposing Democratic plans to expand access to health insurance.

Some ads primarily focus on single-payer plans (often known as Medicare for All), which more than half a dozen presidential candidates are supporting. But Partnership for America’s Health Care Future has used its hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Des Moines market targeting more modest proposals to offer a “public option” on exchanges selling private health insurance policies.

Many central Iowa Democratic activists were surprised and upset to see Loretta Sieman, a longtime West Des Moines city council member, in one of the partnership’s commercials. Sieman spoke to Bleeding Heartland on September 11 about why she opposes the public option and why she agreed to appear in the ad, now in heavy rotation on YouTube as well as Des Moines broadcast and cable stations.

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