Theresa Greenfield

Three of the candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination took aim at perceived front-runner Theresa Greenfield during the final TV forum before the June primary.

Michael Franken, a retired Navy Vice Admiral from Sioux City, brought up the Senate Majority PAC which has spent more than $6 million on ads supporting Greenfield’s candidacy.

“Enormous amounts of outside money, manipulating the voters’ thought processes. We should stop this. There should be an outcry. This is a travesty,” Franken said.

Greenfield interrupted: “You know what? Unfortunately, the thing you haven’t done that I have done is build the strongest grassroots team across this state and I am thrilled to have 70,000 union members endorse my campaign.”

Greenfield said she has no control over outside groups campaigning on her behalf and she accused Franken and her other competitors of reciting “Republican talking points.” Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro accused Greenfield of being “well coached.”

“The problem with this race that we have and I know we’re supposed to be ‘Iowa Nice’ right now, but we need to be honest and genuine with people,” Mauro said, “and you can’t tell people, smile at people and tell them you aren’t taking corporate PAC money,” Mauro said.

Greenfield was quick to respond.

“I haven’t taken one dime of corporate PAC money and I’m not going to,” Greenfield said. “And I believe ‘dark money’ groups should disclose who is donating to their ‘dark money’ groups and how they’re influencing our campaigns.”

Kimberly Graham, an attorney from Indianola, saidGreenfield has accepted more than $150,000 in campaign donations from people who are corporate lobbyists.

“I guess I would just ask why that was necessary and why that money couldn’t have been refused,” Graham said.

Greenfield’s campaign has announced raising $1.5 million, with contributions from more than 15,000 Iowans in all 99 counties. Tonight’s 90-minute debate was broadcast on WHO-TV in Des Moines. It was the third debate this week among the four Democratic candidates who hope to face Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst in November.