DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new bipartisan group in Iowa is pushing for campaign finance reform in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
The organization, called “Iowa Pays the Price,” was set to officially launch Tuesday. The effort is being chaired by Democrats, Republicans and an independent and is funded by Issue One, a national group also focused on similar issues.
Co-chair Brad Anderson, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state last year, said the group plans to spend about $500,000 on an educational campaign that will include social media and online videos. They will be working with a research group called MapLight to produce reports on political money spent in Iowa, where the presidential caucuses are tentatively set for February 2016.
Anderson said campaign money turns a lot of voters off.
“I cannot tell you how many doors I knocked on in 2014 where voters said they were so tired of the mudslinging that they were going to sit out the election,” he said.
With 2014’s competitive U.S. Senate race and several closely fought congressional races, Iowa saw significant spending from candidates and outside groups. In the Senate race alone, spending topped $90 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. MapLight estimates that nearly $112 million was spent on all federal elections in Iowa in 2014.
Spending has grown with the rise of super PACs - political action committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts, but cannot coordinate with candidates.
Anderson said the group will also push presidential candidates for their campaign finance reform plans. Goals include more transparency and steeper penalties for breaking rules. Anderson said Iowa’s early voting status and tradition of political organizing make it “the perfect place to start a bipartisan grass-roots movement.”
Republican Shawn Dietz, who runs the Franklin County Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully for state Senate last year, is another co-chair. He said voters should know where campaign dollars are coming from.
“Transparency is huge,” Dietz said.
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