image I think it’s a fair question to ask, and not just Kim Pearson and Dave Funk, but other candidates further down the ticket.  Two recent examples doesn’t give me much confidence.

Example #1 – In May, Iowans for Tax Relief made a sizable donation ($2500) to State Representative Geri Huser (D-Altoona) in Iowa House District 42.  Not that ITR is a GOP organization, officially, but typically they are Republican friendly.  I’ll admit that Huser has had some good votes on labor issues, but she is hardly a fiscal conservative or aligned with their positions.  Steve Deace last month pointed out problems in her record:

  • Voted for all of Chet Culver’s bloated budgets, including the one that featured the risky bonding scheme correctly criticized by ITR President Ed Failor, Jr.
  • Voted to appropriate one-time stimulus money for ongoing expenses on April 25th, 2009.
  • Voted against ITR’s grand idea to create a "spending transparency" website that allows citizens to see reports on how government spends their money on April 16th, 2009.
  • Voted to fund construction of a new Tran station in Dubuque to facilitate Amtrak service despite the fact that Dubuque has no Amtrak service and Amtrak doesn’t plan to expand into Dubuque on April 25th, 2008.
  • Voted to fund construction of an indoor rainforest in Pella on April 28th, 2007.
  • Voted to allow the employment of publically funded lobbyists on April 25, 2008.
  • Voted against reducing personal income taxes by voting against efforts to reduce the number of income tax brackets from 5 to 3 on May 1st, 2003.

While Huser is certainly better on fiscal issues than some in her caucus, she has votes that contradict ITR’s agenda.  So they reward her with a $2500 donation?  What’s worse is that they don’t support her opponent Kim Pearson who is supportive of their legislative agenda.  Now it’s obviously their money to waste, but why wouldn’t you support a candidate who believes “economic prosperity results from freeing the people to utilize their God-given talents to innovate and produce. We should not penalize the innovators and producers in this state and country! The government continues to place burdens (taxes, fees, regulations, etc.) upon ‘we the people.’ I will fight for the elimination or drastic reduction in corporate, personal, property and inheritance taxes.”

I don’t hear Representative Huser making any such claim.  So would you  support Kim Pearson, the candidate who actually scored 100% on your  legislative survey or the legislator who has been a mixed bag on your issues.  It seems like a no brainer to me.  Out of the entire state central committee and party leadership, only Drew Ivers (that I’m aware of), has a statement regarding ITR’s decision and has sent out a letter of support.

Why are the rest silent?

Example #2 – Last week a fundraiser was held for former Governor Terry Branstad at Kurt Rasmussen’s (of the Rasmussen Group)  horse farm in Runnells (SE Polk County).  Also invited – Brad Zaun Republican Candidate in Iowa Congressional District 3, Bill Northey our current Secretary of Agriculture, and Senator Chuck Grassley, I don’t know if anyone other than Branstad actually attended.   Kim Pearson was invited since it was in her district, as was Dave Funk who is running for County Supervisor in District 3 which encompasses East Polk County.  Both were later told that they were disinvited.  Why?

Well for starters Kurt Rasmussen doesn’t generally support Republican candidates.  Looking at his recent political contributions he has made donations to… oh look State Representative Geri Huser (Pearson’s opponent), then we have Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluff), and State Senator Dennis Black (D–Grinnell) who represents Senate District 21 where his horse farm is located.

He only in the past year donated to two Republicans – State Representative Erik Helland (R-Johnston) who represents House District 69 where Mr. Rasmussen resides and then $10,000 to former Governor Terry Branstad.

These are obviously donations meant to garner influence.  He also donated $28, 700 in 2010 to the Associated General Contractors of Iowa PAC who primarily donates to Democratic candidates.

He played host at this fundraiser… I guess we can see where this is going.  What’s more Ed Skinner was invited, of the Skinner political machine in Altoona.  Mr. Skinner is also Representative Geri Huser’s father, so obviously he can’t be in the same room as his daughter’s opponent.  He also supports Tom Hockensmith, the current County Supervisor for District 3 whom Dave Funk is running against.  A staunch Democrat… now why do you think he would come to a shindig like this?

Looking Mr. Skinner’s political contributions you can see that he is a big time supporter of our incumbent Attorney General, Tom Miller.  He too supports State Senator Dennis Black, State Senator Staci Appel who represents Warren County, State Representative Donovan Olson who represents House District 48 (Boone County), and Michael Mauro – our current Secretary of State.

Pearson and Funk were told that local candidates weren’t supposed to have been invited, but I wonder… was Brenna Findley who is running against Tom Miller invited?  How about Matt Schultz who is running to unseat Mauro?  Somehow I doubt it.

Now I know those who benefit from this fundraiser will say… we need Democrat votes… yeah yada, yada.  It is one thing to try to earn votes, it is quite another to take money – especially when it has the appearance seeking favor and garnering influence.

So this begs the question, how supportive is Branstad of down ticket races when they contradict big donors’ interests?  How will he support Kim Pearson and Dave Funk in the future?  If these two donors were influential enough for Governor Branstad not to work to get them back on the invitation list, how influential will they be when he occupies Terrace Hill?  I did contact the Branstad campaign to ask for their explanation of this fundraiser, and have not heard back.  If I do I will be sure to post their reply.

Admittedly this is not a fundraiser that I would have wanted to see Pearson or Funk at, but then again it’s one I wouldn’t want to see any Republican candidate at either.

So back to the original question – is the Iowa GOP establishment in Pearson and Funk’s corner?  Talk is cheap, we need to see action.

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