Democrats cry foul over Republican campaign tactics
By CHARLOTTE EBY,
Globe Gazette Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES — Iowa Democrats are decrying Republican campaign tactics after two state lawmakers were falsely accused of voting for a bill to aid illegal immigrants — before the two legislators ever took office.
A flyer mailed to voters attacking Democratic Reps. Bob Kressig of Cedar Falls and Dawn Pettengill of Mount Auburn said they supported a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to be eligible for in-state tuition. But the vote was taken in the Iowa House in 2004, months before Kressig and Pettengill were elected.
House Minority Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque said the attacks by Republicans have gone beyond negative campaigning to “outright lying.”
“Iowans should be upset at that. Republicans have set a new low by breaking the public trust,” Murphy said.
The mailers were sponsored by the Washington, D.C., -based Republican State Leadership Committee. Mike Anton, the group’s communication director, said the mistake was realized after the literature had been mailed.
“There was an error that was made, and we apologize for the mistake. I mean, that was something that we regret,” Anton said.
Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City said Iowa Republicans had nothing to do the mailings, and said he sent an e-mail to the D.C. group asking them to stop.
“Quite frankly, I wish they wouldn’t have done that,” Rants said. “That probably doesn’t help matters, but that’s not something that we produced. It’s not something that we put out.”
The battle for the control of the Iowa House, where Republicans hold only a 51-49 majority, will be one of the hardest fought in this election cycle in Iowa.
Kressig, who is facing re-election in a hotly contested Iowa House race, called on Republicans to denounce the mailing against him.
“It’s totally inaccurate, totally inappropriate, and it’s definitely not what my district is looking for,” Kressig said.
Kressig is seeking his second term in House District 19. Republican Matt Reisetter of Cedar Falls is challenging him for the seat.
Reisetter said he was disappointed by the mailer and called it “garbage.”
“Frankly, we’re concerned that it hurts us more than it helps us,” Reisetter said.
The Republican State Leadership Committee is known as a “527” for the section of the federal tax code that regulates them.
Filings with the Internal Revenue Service state the group’s purpose is to “engage in research on issues and political candidates and engage in issue advocacy.”
Its most recent finance report for the month of July showed contributions from cigarette maker Altria, beer-manufacturer Anheuser-Busch, pharmaceutical companies and other businesses.
Charlotte Eby can be reached at (515) 243-0138 or firstname.lastname@example.org.