Gazette Fact-Checker: Ernst “knowingly accepted illegal money from corporations and, as a result, paid a hefty fine”

New independent review confirms Ernst’s record of illegal conduct while she still refuses to answer questions about her corrupt dark money scandal

A new fact-check from the Cedar Rapids Gazette gives an “A” rating to the Greenfield campaign’s new ad taking aim at Senator Joni Ernst’s corruption and illegal campaign contributions.

In its independent review, the Gazette notes that “Greenfield’s claim checks out,” and that “during her first Senate bid, Ernst was found to knowingly accepted illegal money from corporations and, as a result, paid a hefty fine.”

Greenfield for Iowa spokesperson Izzi Levy: “Not only is it clear that Senator Ernst broke the law by taking illegal corporate cash in her last election, but it’s now been more than six months since her campaign got caught illegally coordinating with a dark money group set up by her own staff. Ernst needs to tell Iowans why she broke the law to accept these illegal contributions and answer basic questions about her dark money scandal. Iowans deserve an explanation for why Senator Ernst thinks her corrupt conduct is above the law.”

Here are the highlights from the Gazette’s fact-check:

  • Campaigns are given 60 days to refund excessive portions of contributions, or otherwise have the contributor redesignate or re-attribute the donation. The FEC said Ernst’s campaign failed to comply with those requirements.
  • So we know Ernst’s campaign was found by the FEC to be accepting illegal contributions, and some of them were from corporations.
  • …the FEC found the illegal contributions, some from corporations, were accepted knowingly. Greenfield’s claim checks out so far.
  • Did the debacle leave Ernst with “the largest penalty EVER for an Iowa politician?”
  • A review of FEC administrative fine cases suggests yes.
  • Ernst’s Democratic opponent is right that during her first Senate bid, Ernst was found to knowingly accepted illegal money from corporations and, as a result, paid a hefty fine. We give Greenfield’s claim an A.

Read the full analysis here.

###