The Iowa Democratic Party’s current chairman is defending the actions of a Democrat-led group that’s running an ad campaign against Republican Terry Branstad. Branstad’s seeking a fifth term in 2010 and his campaign has called on the group “Iowans for Responsible Government” to reveal their donors.
Iowa Democratic Party chairman Michael Kiernan suggests this is pay back. “Personally, I love it,” Kiernan says. “I love what’s going on here and let me tell you why: because it’s a taste of their own medicine.”
Kiernan points to ads run against Democratic Governor Chet Culver in 2008, ads which were bankrolled by a group first called the “Iowa Future Fund,” then renamed the “Iowa Progress Project.” That group, headed by a longtime Republican Party campaign operative, is a special kind of corporation which does not have to disclose its donors. “Iowans for Responsible Government” is headed by former Iowa Democratic Party chairman Rob Tully and Tully says donors to that group will be disclosed in mid-July — well after next Tuesday’s primary election. Kiernan, the current party chairman, says Tully’s ad campaign against Branstad is “great.”
“I love what Rob Tully’s doing…because he’s holding him to his record which, by the way, the Branstad campaign doesn’t refute,” Kiernan says. “They’re just mad that they’re running the ads.”
Branstad campaign spokesman Tim Albrecht responded: “I’m sure Michael Kiernan does love these ads because ultimately they seek to benefit him and his party. This group was formed solely to discredit the Branstad campaign in the days and weeks leading up to the primary.”
Kiernan says if it’s wrong for the Democratic-led group to run ads against Branstad, then it was wrong for the Republican-led group to run ads against Culver in 2008. “Where was all the outrage when they were tearing down on Chet Culver when he was trying to rebuild from the four-largest natural disaster in our country’s history and the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, ” Kiernan says. “…What’s fair (for one side) seems fair for the other.”
Branstad’s campaign spokesman says “Iowans for Responsible Government” has distorted Branstad’s record. “Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech but that doesn’t change the fact that this group was formed hastily just last month in order to change course in the Republican primary,” Albrecht says. “And they don’t have to disclose their donors until well after the results (of the primary) are announced.”
Kiernan, the Iowa Democratic Party chairman, counters that the Iowa Progress Project ran radio ads attacking Culver this year, too — during Culver’s “announcement tour” in May — and that the Iowa Progress Project will never have to disclose its donors.
Albrecht made his comments during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. Kiernan made his comments this morning during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs tonight at 7:30.