Patty Judge, the Democrat who’s challenging Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s bid for reelection, today said Grassley is distorting her record and his own when it comes to pay raises.
Grassley’s running a campaign ad that criticizes Judge for failing to voluntarily take a 10 percent pay cut in 2009 when she was serving as Iowa’s lieutenant governor.
“In the height of that recession, where he is trying to call me out, he took a permanent pay raise that was nearly $5,000,” Judge said during a telephone news conference with Iowa reporters, referring to the pay raise for senators that took effect in 2009. “Now that was his 23rd raise since he went to Washington.”
Judge served one term as lieutenant governor and her salary was about $103,000.
“As lieutenant governor I never took a pay raise, including a cost of living adjustment. It simply was not done,” Judge said.
Grassley told Radio Iowa earlier this week that “several times in the last five or six years, we’ve taken a pay cut because the automatic cost of living increase applies to members of Congress.”
Judge told reporters today that’s not a “straight answer.”
“He’s trying to claim that voting against a COLA — a cost of living adjustment — is the same thing as taking a pay cut, you know. Really,” Judge said. “Only someone who’s been in Washington too long would try to make that kind of argument.”
According to the U.S. Senate’s website, the salaries for senators have been frozen at $174,000 since 2009.
Judge today said Grassley and other Republicans insisted on taking “the longest summer recess since the 1950s” and she suggested their pay should be cut as a result of that extra vacation.
“Chuck Grassley is more concerned with airing negative attack ads today than working on behalf of Iowa,” Judge said.
Robert Haus, Grassley’s campaign manager, issued a written statement accusing Judge of trying to “change the subject.”
“The key fact is that as Lt. Governor, due to her gross handling of the state’s finances, she took a meat cleaver to the state budget which directly impacted state employees,” Haus said. “She dished out the medicine in the form of furloughs and pay cuts, but wouldn’t take it herself. That’s not leadership, that’s the perks of being in the privileged ruling class.”
Grassley told Radio Iowa on Tuesday that he has “consistently voted for measures to deny all congressional pay raises” since 1975. Judge’s campaign said earlier this week that during the government shutdown of 2013 Grassley continued to accept his taxpayer-funded salary, while about 120 other members of congress donated their salaries to charity or back to the government.
(This posted was updated at 5:19 p.m. with additional information.)