July 28, 2014

Groups push for campaign finance reform

A new report shows 96 percent of the money donated to Iowa’s 2012 congressional candidates came from donors who live outside the state. Kramer McLuckie is with the Iowa Public Interest Research Group, the organization that issued the report.

“With the beginning of the 2013 session, now’s a really important time to stand up and call for action on campaign finance reform,” McLuckie says.

The report also found 37 percent of the money in those four congressional races came from outside groups that do not have to disclose their donors.

“Super PACS, the newly-created groups that can raise and spend unlimited funds on elections, spent nearly $2.6 million on Iowa federal elections,” McLuckie says.

There were five races in Iowa involving federal candidates in 2012 — the four congressional races and the presidential race.

Bonnie Pitz, president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, says her group supports a wide array of reforms, including public financing of elections.

“We believe that the methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process,” Pitz says.

Pitz and McLuckie spoke Wednesday afternoon during a statehouse news conference organized by groups that support a contitutional amendment that would undo a U.S. Supreme Court decision that granted corporations “personhood” — and the ability to make unlimited campaign donations.

The Democratically-controlled Iowa Senate passed a campaign reform bill last year, but it wasn’t considered in the Republican-led Iowa House. The partisan divide is the same this year, which makes campaign reform unlikely in 2013. Members of several groups which support campaign finance reform lobbied legislators Wednesday afternoon.