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Thanks to the undercover investigative work of a 51-year-old conservative watchdog group, incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst’s Democrat opponent, Theresa Greenfield, has been exposed.
And as a result, she now faces a Federal Election Commission complaint that was filed against her this week by the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI) and the Republican National Committee.
Prior to the complaint’s filing, Greenfield had already been under the spotlight because of seemingly sketchy in-kind donations she’d received from the Iowa Democrat Party totaling over $1 million, far over the $4,000 limit on donations.
FEC rules state that the cap “can only be topped if the contributions are the result of volunteer labor,” as reported by Fox News.
But an undercover investigation by Accuracy in Media, a watchdog group and non-profit, found that Greenfield “doesn’t use volunteer labor” — instead she has “volunteers take a few photos to pretend to be doing the work.”
The RPI and RNC’s complaint is based on this finding.
“By falsely claiming to use volunteers, [Iowa Democratic Party] and the Greenfield campaign are able to unfairly and illegally inflate their political spending, comparatively disadvantaging any opponents in a way that is prohibited under the Federal Election Campaign Act,” the complaint reportedly reads.
Conducted last month, Accuracy in Media’s investigation involved an undercover operative attending one of Greenfield’s events as a volunteer. Except as can be seen below, it appears that the whole volunteer thing was just a sham.
In the video above, an unnamed staffer tells the undercover operative that the only “work” involved in volunteering is “pretending” to do things to help satisfy FEC requirements.
“So what are we doing in there? Envelope stuffing or what?” the operative asks.
“Even less than that. All the FEC requires is for volunteers to be involved in some sense with the production of the mail,” the staffer replies.
“So it would be putting it on a machine that wraps the standard mail with the band. So you’ll put it on there, you’ll band each piece and then they’ll probably have you kind of pretend to wrap a pallet with plastic wrap, and then probably have you pretend to pull a pallet jack. You won’t actually do it, but you know …”
The operative then asks, “So it’s an FEC thing?”
“Yes, it is. You get a discounted mail rate if you’re a federal candidate involved here through volunteer mail. So you’re helping the campaigns pay less for their mail,” the staffer replies.
In a statement to Fox News, Accuracy in Media president Adam Guillette said the video clearly shows that “they don’t use volunteer labor.”
“They have volunteers take a few photos to pretend to be doing the work. This is potentially a major FEC violation,” he added.
Greenfield has denied all wrongdoing.
“This is a false, partisan attack based on a shady, fringe group that Senator Ernst has refused to condemn — even though their operatives lie to Iowans about who they are and harass people at their homes and workplaces,” her communications director, Sam Newton, told Fox News.
Neither the RPI, the RNC nor Accuracy in Media are “fringe groups” …
Iowa Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield says I’m running a “fringe group.”
That’s ok. Federal law says she’s a criminal.https://t.co/YNuwBTrEsa
— Adam Guillette (@adamguillette) October 22, 2020
Meanwhile, Ernst’s campaign has called AIM’s findings “no surprise, as Theresa Greenfield has a history of corruption.”
RPI communications director Aaron Britt concurred, citing Greenfield’s “history of using shady campaign tactics, even resorting to illegal activity.”
She does indeed have some sketchy activity in her past.
When she first ran for office two years ago, she wound up having to drop out after her campaign manager admitted to having faked signatures for a petition that was required for her to get on the ballot.
Two years later, she now faces scrutiny for complaining about “too much” money in politics while simultaneously accepting a whole lot of money.
“Theresa Greenfield, who announced Thursday that her campaign raised more money in three months than any U.S. Senate candidate in Iowa has raised in a complete election cycle, thinks there’s too much money in politics,” The Daily Nonpareil reported earlier this month.
“‘It affects our ability to get anything done,’ said Greenfield, who earlier in the day reported raising $28.7 million in the July through September quarter.”
Ernst, who’s mostly tied in the polls with Greenfield, has been especially vocal on Twitter about Greenfield’s troubling money habits:
.@GreenfieldIowa is still getting insurance through her former employer, Colby Interests
Colby received hundreds of thousands of tax dollars from PPP
Now Greenfield is attacking me for voting for the CARES Act that provided that relief
There’s nothing more Washington than that
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) August 28, 2020
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) October 16, 2020
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) October 16, 2020
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