2020 Election

Iowa Dem Criticized by Fellow Dems for Violating Corporate PAC Pledge

Greenfield dismissed campaign finance hypocrisy as 'Republican talking points'

Iowa Senate hopeful Theresa Greenfield dismissed criticism from fellow Democrats on her campaign finance hypocrisy as "Republican talking points" during a primary debate Thursday.

"You can't smile at people and tell them you're not taking corporate PAC money when you're taking tens of thousands of dollars of corporate PAC money, leadership PAC money that's full of pharmaceutical money, fossil fuel money, and Wall Street money," primary opponent Eddie Mauro said. "Ms. Greenfield must be very well coached because she does keep saying it … she says she wants to end corruption, but she's taking corrupt money, so there's an issue there."

Mauro was not the only Democrat to question Greenfield's pledge during the debate. Attorney Kimberly Graham noted that Greenfield has "taken $153,000 from corporate lobbyists during this campaign" and asked "why that money couldn't have been refused."

Navy veteran Mike Franken said Greenfield was benefiting from attack ads bankrolled by "lobbyists and corporate PACS and Bain Capital and businesses, and frankly a lot of it is dark money." 

Greenfield, who has the backing of national party leaders, often claims she is not accepting "one dime in corporate PAC money" on the campaign trail and has repeatedly denounced dark money. Her campaign is largely shaped around ridding Washington of the "corrupting" influence of money in politics. 

But the Iowa Democrat has benefited from millions in corporate PAC money and dark money through outside groups supporting her bid for the nomination to unseat Sen. Joni Ernst (R.).

Greenfield dismissed the attacks on her hypocrisy as "Republican talking points."

"The facts are the facts. I haven't taken one dime in corporate PAC money, and I'm not going to," Greenfield said. "It's unfortunate that these kinds of false attacks—they sound like Republican talking points," she added. 

Debate moderator Dave Price noted that Greenfield benefits greatly "by having $7 million on the air" in ads from pro-choice activist group EMILY's List and Senate Majority PAC, a Chuck Schumer-aligned group backed by some of the nation's wealthiest liberals. He asked Greenfield why she doesn't disassociate from the groups given her "anticorruption" pledge.

Hours before the debate, WOMEN VOTE!, an EMILY's List affiliate, announced an ad buy backing Greenfield that will begin airing tomorrow. Schumer has pledged to spend at least $13.1 million in Iowa this year.

"You could just say, ‘Don't do that,' but you haven't," Price said. "You could just say, ‘Please take those things off the air. They're dirty and I don't want any part of it.'" 

"Dave, I don't control those groups. I don't even know who they are. I wouldn't even know who to call," Greenfield said, despite the fact that she has repeatedly touted the endorsement of EMILY's List during her campaign. When Price suggested that Greenfield denounce the groups on the debate stage, the Iowa Democrat instead repeated her pledge to "not take one dime in corporate PAC donations."

The four Democrats will square off in a June 2 primary, with the winner facing Ernst in November.