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February 2012

January 2012

Iowa congressional candidates amass millions for November election

By Lynn Campbell

DES MOINES, IA. -- Candidates in two Iowa congressional races seen as key in the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives have amassed several million dollars for their campaigns.

Topping the list is the race between two longtime incumbents, who are facing off in the new 3rd Congressional District in central and southwest Iowa.

*** Latham again tops Boswell in 3rd District ***

U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ames, has accumulated more than $1.9 million in his campaign war chest, according to reports due Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. That's nearly four times as much as U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines, who had slightly less than $500,000 going into this election year.

Latham's campaign said his fundraising, which included $344,804 in contributions in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with Boswell's $181,807, sets a new record for Iowa congressional fundraising. Latham is the only Iowan on the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee and is a close friend of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

"There is a groundswell of support for Tom Latham. The numbers prove that," said Latham campaign manager Annie Kelly. "We continue to see record fundraising and grassroots support for Tom Latham because Iowans know that he is fighting for them every day to build a future of economic security for every single Iowan — from youth to those in their retirement years. Tom is working to find common sense solutions that bring jobs and economic security back to Iowa main streets, small businesses and farms, and Iowans want that to continue."

Boswell campaign manager Grant Woodard did not respond to requests for comment about the latest numbers. This is the third reporting period that Latham topped Boswell in fundraising, after the two were pitted against one another following the redrawing of political boundaries based on population shifts in the 2010 census.

"Yeah, but we went through the last campaign without any debt, and we've always had a challenge here," Boswell said in April. "Anybody that serves Polk County or the capital city, if you will, Des Moines, you're going to have a challenge regardless (of) what party they are. We've always had a challenge. We knew that when we came here."

*** Vilsack tops King in 4th District ***

Former first lady Christie Vilsack, D-Ames, topped U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, in fundraising, both in the fourth quarter of 2011, and in campaign cash heading into 2012.

Vilsack raised $394,194 in the fourth quarter of last year, nearly twice as much as the $206,719 taken in by King.

The former first lady also had $751,530 in her campaign war chest going into this year, compared with King's $529,490. The two are vying to represent the 4th Congressional District in northwest and north central Iowa.

But in anticipated votes, King leads Vilsack, 49 percent to 43 percent, according to a recent poll by the House Majority PAC, a super PAC designed to help win back the U.S. House majority for Democrats. Vilsack leads among independents, 48 percent to 37 percent, with a little over nine months to go before Election Day.

The poll of 974 Iowa registered voters was taken Jan. 18-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Vilsack's campaign said she raised more than $1 million last year, before expenses. She continues to travel across the district announcing policy proposals to double apprenticeships for Iowans, advance economic development and job creation by investing in infrastructure, and advocating for Missouri River flood relief.

"The support Iowans from across the state have shown my campaign is truly humbling," Vilsack said. "Their support is also what motivates me to go to Washington to fight every day to ensure the best policies, not politics, are put in place to ensure future generations can work and raise a family in northwest Iowa."

King was in transit from Iowa to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and did not respond to requests for an interview from

The outspoken, conservative Iowa congressman has been elected five times to represent western Iowa in what's now the 5th Congressional District.

This year, King is being targeted by CREDO SuperPac, a new progressive entity launched by the CREDO Mobile cell phone company that is targeting what the group calls "the most extreme Tea Party Republicans."

King recently told Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal he expects big money will be funneled into the Iowa 4th Congressional District race in 2012.

"I've been convinced for a long time that there would be millions of dollars of super PACs that would come into this race," King told the Journal. "This will be the most expensive congressional race, and probably the dirtiest one, this state has ever seen. I will learn things about me that I don't yet know, from watching the ads."

*** And in other races ***

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, has a sizable lead in fundraising over his potential opponents in the 1st Congressional District in northeast Iowa.

Braley raised $308,852 between October and December, and had $627,426 left at the end of the year. That compares with the $122,793 raised by Ben Lange, R-Independence, who had $120,312 going into this year; and the $71,233 raised by Rod Blum, R-Dubuque, who had $66,065 at the end of the year.

In the race for the 2nd Congressional District in southeast Iowa, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, raised $158,237 in the fourth quarter, bringing his total to $450,961 at the end of the year.

Loebsack's potential opponent, Richard Gates, R-Keokuk, raised $535 last year and was left with a negative cash balance of $47.

See an summary, links to 4th Qtr campaign finance reports:

A smell test for The Iowa Republican

By Mike Thayer

If Christie Vilsack was out circulating nomination petitions to get her name on the primary ballot before she declared herself a candidate, if she made or approved statements like "Vilsack for Congress" before she filed paperwork with the FEC, if she issued a press release saying she raised $120,000 in campaign contributions before she officially announced her candidacy, would Craig Robinson and The Iowa Republican report on that and how Vilsack was skirting FEC rules?

You bet he would.

Craig Robinson and The Iowa Republican wouldn't look the other way with Democrat Christie Vilsack, but they do with Republican Ben Lange.  Just because Ben has an 'R' next to his name makes what he's doing OK?

Nope.  The Iowa Republican is ignoring the truth, and that's a problem.  The publication doesn't pass the smell test, Iowan's deserve better.

Now is the time to vet our candidates folks, not after the primary.

Related Story:

Strawn to Depart as Iowa GOP Chairman

DES MOINES, IA. -- Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today announced he will be stepping down as the state’s top Iowa GOP party official, effective Friday, February 10. Strawn has served as chairman of the Iowa GOP since January 2009. The Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee will be charged with setting the date to elect Strawn’s successor.

Strawn shared his announcement with Iowa Republicans in the following video message.

The prepared text of Strawn’s message to Iowa Republicans follows below:
January 31, 2012
Dear Iowa Republican:
In December 2008, when I campaigned to serve as your Chairman, my top goal was to make the Iowa GOP a relevant force again in Iowa politics by ushering in an era where the Republican Party returned to winning elections without betraying our conservative principles.
Over the past three plus years, we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We witnessed sweeping Republican electoral victories at all levels. We saw an explosion in new Republican voters with an unprecedented 34 consecutive months of Iowa GOP voter registration gains. We kept the Iowa Caucuses First-in-the-Nation. We broke fundraising records, hosted the largest Republican presidential caucus in history, and for the first-time ever, the Iowa GOP co-hosted three nationally televised presidential debates that were watched by millions. Most importantly, Iowa Republicans accomplished all this and more working together as a team.
Simply put, your Iowa GOP is better off than it was four years ago thanks to outstanding team work. Your Iowa GOP is a relevant force again in Iowa politics. Your Iowa GOP is winning elections with leaders who are advancing our principled agenda. Your Iowa GOP is in a position to re-elect our members of Congress, win an Iowa Senate majority, and make Iowa’s six electoral votes the national battleground in the 2012 presidential campaign.
While the election wins, fundraising successes and media appearances are the aspects of being Chairman that gain the most attention, the most rewarding aspect of my service was the opportunity to travel our state and get to know the people of Iowa. The strength of the rebuilt Iowa GOP rests in the hands of the thousands of committed volunteer activists who give their time, treasure and talents to make Iowa a better place by working to elect public servants who share our values and principles.
The Iowa GOP designs its position of Chairman to be volunteer in nature. But over the past three years I have treated the privilege of serving as your Chairman as a full-time calling. There’s no question the job of rebuilding our party was a huge one, and one to which I committed every minute that was necessary to succeed.
It is only because the Iowa GOP has returned as a strong and relevant voice in Iowa politics that I am now able to evaluate all the competing priorities in my personal, business and political life. The party is strong and has the resources in place for victory in November. Now is the time to transition to new leadership.
Effective February 10, I will be ending my service as your Chairman. For this fifth generation Iowan and Benton County farm kid, serving as your Chairman has been an honor, a privilege and the opportunity of a lifetime.
To Victory,
Matthew N. Strawn

Being a Republican isn’t about what we are, it’s about who we are

The Conservative Take, by Steve Rathje

SteverathjeGiven the current rhetoric in Republican presidential politics, it would appear as though you're now the bad guy if you’ve taken a risk, formed a business; achieved success; followed the rules; paid your taxes; and actually done something with your life. If that’s truly the case, wouldn’t the opposite then hold true for what one’s competition finds to be a satisfactory alternative... to close your business; fire your employees; send all the jobs to China; become a lawyer, academic or professional politician; be delinquent on your taxes and sip tea while sitting on a loveseat with those you disagree with?  

Sounds a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I believe it’s more true than not and I don’t think this trend is exclusive to presidential campaigns either, as class/business warfare against those that have achieved success seems to be running rampant throughout Republican primaries. Those that apply it, must in their own minds feel they’ve been forced to, simply because their résumé doesn’t appear to qualify them for the task at hand and therefore demonizing their opponent is the only way they can create enough doubt in the eyes of the voter to get themselves elected.  

When was the last time you heard a lawyer, an academic, or a professional politician speak from experience to what needs to be done when a company finds it difficult to remain in business, let alone make payroll and compete in the market place?  When was the last time you heard any of the three offer a single solitary solution based on personal experience rather than what they happened to read from a book, learn from a seminar, or pick up on FOX News? Rather than utilize their own experiences and talents to draw attention to themselves and their leadership abilities, they choose to use the qualifications of their opponents to not only demonize them, but equalize and justify that which they lack in comparison.

Let’s take for example the company I mentioned in my opening statement that’s finding it hard to make payroll. The lawyer, the academic and the professional politician, out of ignorance choose to freeze wages and benefits and make across the board cuts in a feeble attempt to fix what’s broken. The qualified/experienced individual on the other hand, knows full well that freezing accomplishes nothing, and that wages and benefits have to be cut immediately while analyzing the necessity of the current labor force. All departments ‘have to’ participate with only unnecessary personnel from each department receiving a furlough. Duties ‘have to’ be combined wherever possible. Feasibility studies ‘have to’ be made to determine internal costs vs. subcontracted ones. Budgets ‘have to’ be brought inline with revisions being made, and prices ‘have to’ be cut to stimulate sales in order to boost profits and become economically solvent again.    

Sadly enough, politicians and would-be politicians take great pride in pointing toward successful business owners and what they’ve accomplished when attempting to explain the merits of their conservative positions, of free enterprise and capitalism. Neither takes any issue in soliciting contributions from the successful either, but place that successful, experienced business person in a position to challenge them, their perceived authority and the power they seek; it then becomes very apparent as to what their true motives are and what drives them. I find it extremely disingenuous for a self proclaimed, would-be, so-called conservative to challenge the Democrat party when it comes to jobs and the economy while having absolutely no experience in providing a remedy themselves, let alone the demonization of those that do. 

If this is truly is what being a Republican means to some, I couldn’t disagree more, because being a Republican isn’t about what we are, it’s about who we are. Once we compromise who we are, the very foundation on which we stand begins to crumble. We as true Republicans, Conservatives, Constitutional Patriots, don’t demonize free enterprise, we embrace it, we don’t criminalize success, we encourage it and we don’t make keeping more of what we earn sound un-American!  

Whether it’s the public sector or the private sector, life experience and success really do matter. Stop demonizing conservatives that have worked hard to achieve it, and instead start encouraging, rewarding, and thanking them for their ability to do so.

Mainstream media fails to question Ben Lange about his $120,000

Headline:  Lange has raised $120,000 toward new Braley challenge

That's the headline from the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

First line of the story:  Republican Ben Lange is reporting that he’s raised $120,000 for a rematch with Democratic 1st District Rep. Bruce Braley.

Sounds great right?  Rah-rah stuff right?


The Gazette, The Iowa Republican, KCRG simply took Lange's claim at face value.  They failed to ask the who, what, where, when, why questions.  Journalism 101.  Ben Lange said he raised $120,000, he's not even an officially declared candidate and the news publications basically said, Duh, gee, OK, we'll print what you said.....

Below is the who, what, where, when, and why the media failed to address.  Republicans in Iowa's First Congressional District should be concerned. 

Folks should know that Lange is skirting FEC rules.  A news publication that cares about the truth would check it out and not just post Wow, look at Ben Lange, he raised $120,000!  They didn't even ask where the contributions came from. They didn't ask for proof Lange actually has that kind of money, for all we know it's sheer propaganda.  How is that a service to you?

Mr. Lange’s conduct in this matter should be questioned, not congratulated and promoted. Lange has violated rules and regulations set forth by the FEC and that should be put out for public review.  No one, but no one is above the law, not even a lawyer from Independence named Ben Lange.

This isn’t some witch hunt, it isn't personal on my part. It’s about the law, right vs. wrong and making sure we have top quality candidates running for office. I can't stress that enough!  We don't 'protect' Ben or look the other way just because he has a 'R' next to his name.

I have personally communicated with The Federal Election Commission on several occasions asking questions and discussing this matter in depth prior to making any statements or writing any articles about it. I wanted to be absolutely sure I was correct before I put anything out there in the public eye. That's how I operate. My concerns are valid.  But don't take my word for it, do your own homework folks, here's a link to the FEC Rules and Regulations along with a brief tutorial (below) to illustrate my point. And hey pick up the phone, here’s the toll free telephone number for the FEC: 800-424-9530. Call them and learn for yourself.  Don't take my word for it, take theirs. Once you’ve dialed, follow the prompt by pressing 6 for the ‘Information Division’.

I find it unfortunate that the media has chosen to give Ben Lange a pass.

 So... in checking out the FEC rules & regs:

Please click on the link provided above and scroll to page 1, entitled; “Testing the Waters.”

Then go directly to the right side of the page and read Sec 1. Entitled; “Testing the waters vs. campaigning.”

Now read the paragraph entitled, “Campaigning”.

To simplify things even further, here’s exactly what it says...

“Certain activities, however, indicate that the individual has decided to become a candidate and is no longer testing the waters. In that case, once the individual has raised or spent more than $5,000, he or she must register as a candidate. Note that, when an individual decides to run for office, funds that were raised and spent to test the waters apply to the $5,000 threshold.

Campaigning (as opposed to testing the waters) is apparent, for example, when individuals:

• Make or authorize statements that refer to themselves as candidates (“Smith in 2012” or “Smith for Senate”);

• Use general public political advertising to publicize their intention to campaign;

• Raise more money than what is reasonably needed to test the waters or amass funds (seed money) to be used after candidacy is established;

• Conduct activities over a protracted period of time or shortly before the election; or

• Take action to qualify for the ballot.” (In other words you cannot seek out petition signatures)

100.72(b) and 100.131(b).


Lange has made statements or authorized statements referring to himself as a candidate.  Unless you have officially registered yourself as a candidate with the FEC, that's a no-no.  

Lange has raised more money, a lot more, than what is reasonably needed to 'test the waters'.  That's a no-no. 

Lange put nomination petitions out in all 20 counties throughout Iowa's First District on Caucus night, without being an officially declared candidate with the FEC.  That's a no-no.

Lange had campaign volunteers carry out the above task, unless you're an officially registered candidate, which Ben isn't, that's a no-no.

Most likely, the petitions people signed on Caucus night to put Ben's name on the primary ballot are no good.  Lange wasted Republicans' time and effort.  The petitions most likely will have to be done all over again. 

These aren't innocent mistakes folks.  Lange is blowing off the rules.  He's an experienced Congressional candidate, he's been there, done that and for crying out loud he's a lawyer.  HE'S SUPPOSED TO KNOW THE RULES AND MAINTAIN THEIR INTEGRITY.  He also violated FEC rules in 2010.  There's a pattern of behavior here folks.  It's a problem for Republicans hoping to win another seat in Congress.

Shame on the media outlets that failed to ask the who, what, where, when, and why questions before running with a story.  Shame on the media outlets that just took what a guy said, at face value. 

And where is the Republican State Central Committee on this?  They can no longer remain silent.

Related Story:

Respect your elders

"Without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity or influence the freedom of inquiry, I will hazard a prediction that, after the most industrious and impartial researchers, the longest liver of you all will find no principles, institutions or systems of education more fit in general to be transmitted to your posterity than those you have received from your ancestors." -- John Adams, letter to the young men of the Philadelphia, 1798

Ben Lange provides FEC with an update

By Mike Thayer

It's AMAZING what a couple of articles exposing wrongdoing can do....

Back on January 19, I wrote an article about there being a void in Iowa's First Congressional District, that the GOP hopefuls Rod Blum (an announced candidate) and Ben Lange ( in exploratory committee status) were making some mistakes that Republicans just can't afford to make if they hope to defeat liberal incumbent Bruce Braley in November. 

In that article, I noted how Ben Lange was in apparent violation of FEC rules and regulations, here's part of what I wrote, keep in mind that as of January 19, Ben Lange was in 'Exploratory Committee' status:

FEC Campaign Finance Rules and Regulations, Chapter 1, Page 1:  Campaigning (As opposed to testing the waters) is apparent, for example, when individuals:

  • Take action to qualify for the ballot 

Download Campaign Finance Rules and Regs

Ben Lange took action to qualify for the ballot on caucus night by having petitions for voters to sign at various caucus sites throughout the district.  I contacted several county Republican central committee chairs and/or committee members throughout District 1 and they confirmed the presence of Lange nomination petitions.  Not just "Let's urge Ben Lange to run for Congress" petitions mind you, but Ben-Lange's-name-to-be-placed-on-the-primary-ballot petitions.  Now if I'm interpreting the FEC information above correctly, you have to be a declared candidate to do that.  FEC rules state that exploratory committee status must be terminated, official candidacy declared and paperwork be filed as an official candidate.....  THEN petitions to have your name placed on the primary ballot can be put out.  Lange didn't do that, he is a lawyer, he's run for this office before, you would think he would be familiar with the rules. 

In that article I also questioned Ben Lange's fund raising, in amounts exceeding the FEC definition for testing the water, a.k.a., 'Exploratory Committee.'

Here's what I wrote and again, this was written on January 19, 2012:

Here's the thing, according to FEC rules, if Lange has collected even just $5,000 dollars while in Exploratory Committee status, then he is obligated by law to file a Statement of Candidacy, FEC Form 2.  He hasn't.  By law he can no longer remain in Exploratory Committee status, he MUST file to be a candidate.


Lange was NOT an officially declared candidate prior to placing nomination petitions out on caucus night, January 3.

Lange has stated that he has raised more money, a lot more, than what is reasonably needed to 'test the waters' according to FEC definition distinguishing the difference between testing the waters and outright campaigning.

The next day, January 20, I wrote an article regarding another apparent violation of FEC rules and regulations:

Is Ben Lange really this sloppy?

I find it hard to believe that Ben Lange, a lawyer from Independence considering on making a run for Congress and challenge Democrat incumbent and liberal lawyer Bruce Braley......  Is it sloppiness by Lange, or arrogance?

He's got an Exploratory Committee website.  Fine, no problem there.

On that site he asks for contributions.  Fine, no problem with that either, but keep in mind that once he crosses the $5,000 threshold, he must close out the Exploratory Committee status and file to be an official candidate.

Now here's the kicker.  Ben Lange is a lawyer, he is supposed to KNOW, comply with and uphold the law.  Complying with FEC rules and regulations is no exception!  Check out the url address for his "Exploratory Committee" website: 

Campaigning (as opposed to testing the waters) is apparent, for example, when individuals 

• Make or authorize statements that refer to themselves as candidates (“Smith in 2012” or “Smith for Senate”);  

That's from FEC Campaign Finance Rules and Regulations, Chapter 1, Page 1....   

In a review of the FEC site today, it seems that Lange has now updated the FEC, as a result of my articles exposing his skirting of the rules.  Ben Lange submitted FEC Form 1 and Form 2, finally declaring himself an official candidate with the FEC.  He mailed the forms on January 23, the FEC received them on January 25.

It's AMAZING what a couple of articles exposing wrongdoing can do huh?

I wrote on January 19 about nomination petitions being sent out before Lange was a declared candidate, I wrote on January 20 about how Lange was making statements of candidacy before filing with the FEC.   With that information out in public view, only THEN did Ben Lange file his paperwork, and he didn't do it until January 23.  This wasn't some kind of innocent mistake or oversight by Ben.  Even if it was, do you want to put 'inept' in a U.S. House seat representing Iowa?

Related story:

Hey Ben, you're welcome.  It's good that this comes out now, so you had the opportunity to 'fix' what I caught you not doing.  But frankly, you've been there and done that, you're a lawyer, you shouldn't have ignored rules and put yourself into a situation like this in the first place.

Voters should know that Ben had FEC filing issues in 2010 as well.

The voters in Iowa's First District don't want sloppy candidates, they deserve better.

Iowa House sheds light on Coralville TIF shenanigans

Kudos to Charlotte Walker for forwarding the following information and link.  After reading the story, be sure to click the three informational links at the bottom of the page.

Government Oversight-Coralville use of TIF Funds

Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth was brought before the House Government Oversight committee last Thursday. The committee members raised questions regarding the way the city is using tax increment financing in its Iowa River Landing commercial development.

Retail growth in Coralville has exponentially grown since the city began using TIF in 1998 to develop land that is now Coral Ridge Mall. The city has borrowed over $200 million in bonds to be repaid by tax increment financing

Read On.....

Documents presented to the committee: