Delayed map didn't hurt Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising

Candidates running for U.S. House in Iowa raised a surprising amount of money from July through September, given that we have no idea what their districts will look like in 2022.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from the latest quarterly filings to the Federal Election Commission. Notable numbers from Congressional candidates’ fundraising and spending during the first half of 2021 can be found here.

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Iowa Democrats back Deere workers, Republicans mostly silent

Prominent Iowa Democrats were quick to express solidarity with United Auto Workers members who went on strike at midnight on October 14. But Republican officials were mostly silent as Iowa’s largest strike in decades began.

The work stoppage affects some 10,000 UAW members, of whom about 6,500 are employed at John Deere facilities in Waterloo, Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, and Ottumwa. Earlier this week, about 90 percent of UAW members voted to reject the company’s contract offer—a remarkable consensus, given that more than 90 percent of workers participated in the vote. Although Deere’s profits have increased by 61 percent in recent years, and CEO John May’s salary increased by about 160 percent from 2019 to 2020, the company offered workers only a 5 percent to 6 percent raise, with additional 3 percent raises in 2023 and 2025. Proposed changes to pensions also weren’t acceptable to most workers.

The last strike at John Deere plants began in 1986 and lasted for about five months. According to the Des Moines Register, the largest strikes anywhere in Iowa during the past three decades were a 1995 stoppage at Amana Refrigeration in Cedar Rapids, which involved about 2,000 workers, and a 2004 strike at Newton-based Maytag, involving about 1,600 workers.

The Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement supporting the Deere workers a few minutes after midnight, and many well-known Democrats added their voices throughout the day. I’ve enclosed many of those comments below.

Meanwhile, Governor Kim Reynolds, Senator Joni Ernst, and U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) said nothing about the event directly affecting thousands of their constituents. Staff for Reynolds, Hinson, and Miller-Meeks did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries.

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Outside money returns to IA-03

Bleeding Heartland user Strong Island Hawk reviews some “issue ads” now targeting (or defending) U.S. Representative Cindy Axne.

Welcome to the Age of Dark Money. And that means All Political Ads, All the Time. Iowans know all too well the constant barrage of campaign commercials especially before Election Day or during the primaries. Thanks to long experience with the first-in-the-nation caucuses, Hawkeyes have learned to tune out the relentless stream of political messages, TV, radio and digital ads, phone calls and door knocks, which can start more than a year before the general election. But they’re also used to a respite from the electioneering activity once the election has passed. This year, most Iowans were probably hoping for a break from the noise, especially after a long and bruising 2020 campaign.  

However, the never-ending flow of dark money has made political ads a year-round reality, even in non-election years. And in a hotly contested swing district like Iowa’s third Congressional, voters can scarcely get through an episode of Wheel of Fortune or a morning news broadcast without seeing an attack ad funded by shadowy outside forces. The ads have become almost as ubiquitous as the commercials for sports betting sites. And it’s hard to believe it’s only September of a year ending in “-1” – and not even one before a presidential year. This is before a midterm election. 

One thing is clear: IA-03 is already a major electoral battleground gaining national attention. And the money is pouring in. 

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Axne corrects errors on financial disclosures

U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) has corrected errors and omissions on the annual financial disclosure statements required for members of Congress, her office announced on October 8. The non-profit watchdog group Campaign Legal Center filed complaints last month against Axne and six other House members, saying they had not reported stock trades within the time frame specified by federal law.

Axne’s amended disclosures have not yet been posted on the official Congressional website, but I will update with the link when the files are available.

A news release described the errors as “clerical issues,” which Axne was unaware of before the ethics complaint.

As soon as she learned of these issues, she took steps to properly address them, including hiring an outside counsel to audit her reports and confirming with the third-party money manager who oversees the related retirement accounts that she did not personally direct or execute any of these trades.

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Catholic nuns to Cindy Axne: Tax the rich

Sister Jeanie and Sister Elaine Hagedorn, who co-authored this post, are Catholic sisters with the Congregation of the Humility of Mary. They live in Des Moines and are longtime advocates for Catholic social justice with groups like NETWORK.

No matter where we come from or what we look like, Iowans believe that working families deserve a fair shot. All work has value, and all working people have rights, from farmworkers in vibrant rural towns to factory workers in our bustling cities. But for too long, a greedy few corporations and CEOs have rigged the game in Iowa and across the world, taking from working people to make sure that a powerful few can get rich off the profit that working Iowans, particularly Black and Brown working Iowans, produce.

For years, wages in Iowa have stagnated for everyone, and the racial wealth gap has exacerbated inequalities embedded in our economic system. In particular, Black, Brown, and Indigenous workers have been pushed to the economic margins by systemic inequality in our tax code. Meanwhile, the climate crisis continues to put all Iowa families at risk as storms like the 2020 derecho devastate working neighborhoods.

As Catholic nuns with decades of ministry experience in Iowa, we have worked closely with those most impacted by Iowa’s inequities. Union workers, immigrant communities, hungry children, and houseless families have turned to social services, religious communities, and mutual aid efforts because of our state and federal government’s misplaced priorities.

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Ethics complaint a hard lesson for Axne, warning for Miller-Meeks

The non-profit watchdog group Campaign Legal Center filed ethics complaints on September 22 against seven members of Congress, including U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03). The complaints ask the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate four U.S. House Democrats and three Republicans, who did not disclose stock trades within the time frame required by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. That 2012 law was designed to prevent members of Congress from turning inside knowledge into profit.

For Axne, it was the worst way to find out about a disclosure problem. The ethics complaint generated extensive Iowa media coverage, all of which included quotes from delighted Republicans. For U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), the episode was a heads up to get her own financial disclosures in order before she faces similar scrutiny next year.

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