Iowa Democrat Theresa Greenfield, who is being aided by millions in dark money, held a virtual fundraiser with an anti-dark money group during the coronavirus pandemic. She has not participated in any virtual public events during the outbreak.
Greenfield held a "special virtual event" with End Citizens United, a liberal group that decries the influence of corporate PAC and dark money in politics. However, her campaign has received millions in help from liberal dark money groups, pulled in cash from committees funded by corporate PACs, and has been accused of illegally coordinating with a Democratic super PAC.
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Greenfield is attempting to unseat Republican senator Joni Ernst in what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested races in the country. She has shaped her campaign around ridding Washington of the "corrupting" influence of money in politics. She released a plan that calls for eliminating dark money, banning corporate PACs, and stopping coordination between campaigns and outside groups. Greenfield appears to have already broken all of these promises.
"I'm not accepting any corporate PAC money," Greenfield tweeted following the End Citizens United event. "Iowans need a senator who will fight for them, not corporate special interests. Now more than ever, we need to #EndPoliticalCorruption." End Citizens United throws its weight behind candidates who vow to oppose big money in Washington. The group plans to spend $10 million backing candidates for the 2020 election cycle.
End Citizens United endorsed Greenfield despite the Democrat having received a boost from almost every target of her "anticorruption" plan.
Greenfield has called for "sweeping reforms that ensure Washington politicians put the needs of Iowa first." Her plan calls for banning dark money—political spending by nonprofits that hide their donors.
But Greenfield has received outside help from Iowa Forward, a liberal dark money group that does not disclose its donors. The shadowy group has dropped more than $600,000 into advertisements and billboards attacking Sen. Ernst.
The Senate hopeful also vows not to receive money from corporate PACs but appears to have found a workaround. Her campaign has received more than $150,000 from Democratic leadership PACs that have taken money from PACs associated with corporations. Sen. Schumer's Impact PAC, for example, has given money to Greenfield's campaign. Schumer's PAC has received at least $200,000 from PACs associated with Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Facebook, Altria, Google, and Humana.
Also included in her "anticorruption" plan is a promise to stop candidate coordination with outside groups. Greenfield and the Senate Majority PAC, which is affiliated with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), were hit with a complaint alleging illegal coordination between the two entities following a Washington Free Beacon report.
Sen. Schumer's group has spent more than $5 million on Greenfield's behalf and plans to spend at least $13.1 million more in Iowa this year. The PAC is closely affiliated with Majority Forward, a dark money nonprofit that is also targeting Ernst. Majority Forward has paid the Senate Majority PAC $1.7 million in recent years for its shared staff and office space.
Greenfield also wants to tackle lobbyists and take power away from special interests if elected to the Senate. Her campaign, however, has received at least $30,000 from dozens of lobbyists.
Greenfield's campaign and End Citizens United did not respond to inquiries by press time.