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Iowa Politics Roundup: Romney, Pawlenty Start Building Iowa Bankrolls PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 23 July 2010 14:38

New reports filed with the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board show two potential 2012 Republican presidential contenders are starting to fill the bank accounts of their Iowa-based political action committees.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's Free & Strong America PAC-Iowa raised $81,600 from eight out-of-state donors from May 15 to July 14, spent $81,784, and had $50,816 at the close of the reporting period.

Romney's $81,784 in PAC expenditures don't show money being given directly to Iowa candidates, but instead show money paid for salary and gratuity, consultant services, professional fees, office supplies, printing and reproduction, travel, headquarter expenses, postage, shipping, and delivery. David Kochel of Des Moines is the PAC's treasurer.

A report filed with the Federal Election Commission showed that Romney's national Free & Strong America PAC has contributed $17,500 to Iowa campaigns, including $10,000 to Republican gubernatorial nominee (and former Governor) Terry Branstad, $5,000 to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, and $2,500 to Republican Third Congressional District candidate Brad Zaun of Urbandale.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC-Iowa raised $32,500 from three out-of-state donors in its first month, spent $6,100, and had $26,400 left to spend.

Expenditures showed that Pawlenty had not yet donated to individual Iowa candidates with his Iowa PAC, but instead spent the money on consulting. He paid $3,500 to the McGill Consulting Group LLC of Bloomington, Minnesota; $2,000 to Compliance Consulting Co. of Virginia LLC of McLean, Virginia, and $600 to Engage LLC of Washington, D.C.

However, a report filed with the Federal Election Commission showed that Pawlenty's national Freedom First PAC contributed $2,400 to Grassley's campaign in March. Pawlenty will return to Iowa July 31 to August 2 to campaign for Republican legislative candidates.

National Governors Associations Play Key Role in Iowa's Gubernatorial Race

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) and Democratic Governors Association (DGA) are playing a key role in Iowa's gubernatorial race this year, both pouring in more than $1 million to back their candidates and easily becoming the largest financial backers of the expensive top-of-the-ticket race that's garnered national attention.

"Terry Branstad is about the best candidate we could possibly ever hope for," said Tim Murtaugh, director of political communications for the Republican Governors Association, when asked why the RGA was investing so heavily in Iowa. "He's a guy with great experience, a tremendous record, a great leader who's still very popular in Iowa. Again, he'd make a great governor. We're just thrilled that he decided to run."

Campaign finance reports filed this week show that the RGA contributed $1 million to Branstad in the last six weeks, with checks of $500,000 on June 10, $250,000 on July 9, and $250,000 on July 14. The money accounts for about 18 percent of the $5.6 million that Branstad has raised from 11,700 donors since the campaign's inception last October.

Meanwhile, Democratic Governor Chet Culver's top donation in the past six weeks was a $250,000 check on July 14 from the DGA, which gave him $500,000 last year and $750,000 earlier this year. The $1.5 million in contributions account for about 23 percent of the $6.6 million his campaign said it has raised since the beginning of the gubernatorial campaign.

"We certainly believe very strongly in Governor Culver," said Emily DeRose, communications director for the Democratic Governors Association. "Governor Culver is a strong incumbent. We think he has done right by the people of Iowa. He has made tough decisions in some tough times."

Those dollar figures don't include the $782,500 the Democratic Governors Association gave to the 527 organization called Iowans for Responsible Government (led by former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rob Tully), which used the money to run attack ads against Branstad before the primary election.

Murtaugh said the RGA is not spending money in all 37 states with governor's races, but tries to spend money where it can make an impact and help a candidate win. The RGA has already been on television in eight states.

The Democratic Governors Association has contributed to candidates across the country and has also advertised directly and been active in states including Ohio, Rhode Island, California, Nevada, and Illinois.

Northey Tops Executive Council in Campaign Cash

Republican Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey has accumulated $294,595 in his campaign warchest, a total that's higher than any other member of the state Executive Council outside of Culver, according to a report filed with the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board.

Northey raised $83,380 in the past six weeks and spent $35,312, leaving him with a total of $294,595. That compares with Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller's $225,495, Republican State Auditor David Vaudt's $137,746, Democratic Secretary of State Michael Mauro's $136,897, and Democratic State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald's $122,740.

Northey's fundraising and campaign cash far surpass Democratic opponent Francis Thicke, a Fairfield organic dairy farmer who took in $8,101 this past reporting period, spent $18,523, and had $21,771 at the end of the reporting period.