Iowa Dem Hits Ernst for Taking Pharma Money, Takes Pharma Lobbyist Money

Theresa Greenfield’s most recent financial disclosure reveals at least $17,500 from big pharma lobbyists

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) / Getty Images

The Democratic establishment's pick to challenge Republican senator Joni Ernst in Iowa took aim at her this week for receiving contributions from the pharmaceutical industry. But her own disclosures show she received big cash from the industry's top lobbyists.

In a Tuesday fundraising email, senatorial candidate Theresa Greenfield criticized Ernst for "lining her pockets" with "Big Pharma" campaign donations. Greenfield also tweeted an article Monday that noted Ernst's high-dollar donors, stating, "I don't know about you, but I prefer people powered campaigns."

Greenfield, who pledged not to take corporate PAC money, accepted at least $17,500 in donations from nine lobbyists who have received over $35.9 million in lobbying contracts from pharmaceutical companies, her most recent financial disclosure shows.

While Greenfield often touts her prioritization of small-dollar donors, only one of the nine lobbyists donated under $1,000, and four of the nine donated at or near the maximum allowed amount.

Prominent among the lobbyist donors is Jeffrey Forbes, who gave $2,700 to Greenfield and has received $15.3 million in pharmaceutical lobbying contracts to date. Heather McHugh, who also gave $2,700 to Greenfield, has received $5.4 million to lobby for pharmaceutical companies such as Biogen and Horizon Pharma. Steven Elmendorf gave $2,800 and lobbied on behalf of Medicines Co. and PhRMA, and Andrew Woods, who has represented 15 different pharmaceutical companies in his career, also donated the $2,800 max.

Other Greenfield donors include John Buscher, Michael D. Smith, and Tracy Spicer. The three lobbyists account for $5,000 in donations and over $10.4 million in pharmaceutical contracts.

Former lobbyist Jamie Gorelick, who represented the Medicines Company, also gave Greenfield $1,000.

The Greenfield campaign didn't respond to a request for comment on the lobbyist contributions by press time.

Before taking on Ernst, Greenfield will have to win a 2020 primary against Democrats Kimberly Graham and Eddie Mauro.

Ernst was first elected in 2014 and currently has a positive approval rating in Iowa, according to Morning Consult.