Baseball scandal shows how low we go

Tom Witosky was an investigative reporter for the Des Moines Register in politics, sports, and business for 33 years prior to his early retirement in 2012. He is also the co-author of Equal Before the Law: How Iowa led Americans to Marriage Equality. -promoted by Laura Belin

It’s time we all acknowledge one single truth about what we have done to our country: We’ve lost our moral authority.

And we are all to blame for it no matter which side of the political spectrum you sit.

How do I know that?

It’s simple really. It’s about baseball.

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AP pulls back curtain on coordination between Ernst aides, dark money

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst introduced a potential major donor to one of her campaign’s fundraisers, who later asked that person for a “an investment of $50,000” in a dark money group backing Ernst’s re-election, Brian Slodysko reported for the Associated Press on December 6.

Slodysko’s scoop uncovered what may be illegal coordination between the Ernst campaign and the Iowa Values group, which can accept unlimited contributions without disclosing donors.

It wasn’t the first time Ernst’s campaign ventured into a gray area.

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A few thoughts on campaign donations and Iowa caucus endorsements

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy resigned as state political director for Tom Steyer’s presidential campaign on November 8, a day after Alexandra Jaffe reported for the Associated Press that Murphy “privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations.”

Among politically active Iowans, reaction to Jaffe’s scoop ranged from anger to disappointment to a shrug: “Isn’t this long accepted practice?”

No. While presidential hopefuls and their affiliated committees have often donated to Democratic candidates and party organizations, hoping for future support, it is rare for anyone to dangle a possible donation in exchange for an endorsement.

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Iowa campaign regulator searching for new executive director

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board will soon hire a new executive director. Megan Tooker, who has held the position since December 2010, is leaving to pursue unspecified new opportunities, she told Bleeding Heartland on November 4.

The ethics board is one of the smallest state agencies and enforces Iowa law on campaign finance disclosures, government ethics and lobbying the executive branch, and gifts to public officials.

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Joni Ernst tweets about aliens, silent on Trump pushing Ukraine for political gain

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is among Ukraine’s most vocal supporters in Congress. While in college, she visited the Ukrainian Republic of the USSR as part of an agricultural exchange. Now a member of the bipartisan Senate Ukraine Caucus, she has met with high-level Ukrainian officials in Washington and Kyiv, advocating for the U.S. to “make it clear to Russia that we will stand by Ukraine in the face of unjustified aggression.”

Yet Iowa’s junior senator has been silent this week as multiple news organizations reported that President Donald Trump abused his power to seek political assistance from his Ukrainian counterpart.

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