The state’s chief campaign watchdog says a political committee that’s hoping to lure Terry Branstad back into politics must change its name if it wants to avoid an ethics violation. The Draft Branstad movement is under fire now that the former Republican governor has filed campaign papers with the state for a potential shot at his old job. That’s because the committee is a so-called 527 group which cannot contribute to, or advocate on behalf of, a single candidate.
Charlie Smithson is the executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. “When you use the words ‘Draft Branstad’ – is that the functional equivalent of saying vote for Branstad, elect Branstad? So, that’s one of the things we’re wrestling with and I would just suggest to this group – let’s just get your name changed,” Smithson said. If the committee doesn’t change its name within a few days, Smithson says he’ll bring the matter before the ethics board next week.
“I would just like to see this resolved without any formal action by the ethics board,” Smithson said. “It seems to me that there are a couple of legal options that are available to the group…let’s just explore one of those, make this go away and get back on the issues.” A call to the Draft Branstad group was not immediately returned.