- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa’s ethics board on Tuesday dismissed a complaint filed against state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald over a publicly funded advertising campaign for a popular college savings program that aired as he was running for re-election.

Megan Tooker, executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, said the advertising campaign didn’t violate a state law prohibiting using public resources for political purposes because the ads didn’t tell people how to vote.

Fitzgerald, a Democrat, was elected to his ninth term in November. His office started airing College Savings Iowa television ads featuring Fitzgerald in August. After complaints from some broadcasters, a new ad was made that did not include Fitzgerald. Deputy Treasurer Karen Austin said the bulk of the ads aired during the $250,000 television and radio campaign did not include Fitzgerald.

Austin said the treasurer’s office was pleased by the decision, saying these were “unfounded accusations.” She said Fitzgerald has run similar ads for the past 16 years and that he appears in them to provide his clear “seal of approval” for the college savings program.

The complaint was filed by a campaign staffer for Republican treasurer candidate Sam Clovis. Clovis said he was not surprised by the board decision. He said he hoped lawmakers would consider legislation barring officeholders from doing advertising with their images during elections.

“It’s not a Republican or Democratic issue; it’s about perception,” Clovis said.

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