Top Stories

Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

(Photo: Video Capture)
(Photo: Video Capture)

Group with Democratic roots chooses Gingrich, Romney as first targets

By Lynda Waddington | 05.23.11 | 6:00 am

A shadowy political action group formed by two key supporters of President Barack Obama has chosen to use its first ad to attack former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by using the words of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

On its sparse website, Priorities USA Action notes that it is “an Independent Expenditure PAC that supports candidates who will advance policies that provide the strongest and most sound outcomes for middle class families.” The organization was one of two — the other being “Priorities USA” — that were formed earlier this year by former Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton and former senior adviser Sean Sweeney

Priorities USA Action is a political action committee, or 527 in the tax code, that was organized for election influencing. Priorities USA, which has been far more controversial in Democratic circles, is a 501(c)4 that is not required to disclose its donors.

While such shadowy groups are not new. A similar conservative organization with strong Iowa ties, the American Future Fund spent millions to influence voters in the lead up to the 2010 elections, a large chunk of the money against U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) in Iowa’s 1st District. What is somewhat new is the move by Democrats to take advantage of the tax distinction that allows for direct voter influence without contribution accountability.

Some see the move by Democrats into this type of hidden advocacy as a way to level what’s become an uneven political playing field. Others, however, believe that such election activity should not be employed because it is inherently unethical and does not provide a clear picture to voters as to who and what interests are hoping to sway their opinions.

In late April, when Priorities USA was formed, Burton and and Sweeney penned a memo to key Democratic activists and strategists in an effort to explain that however unsavory the use of a shadowy group may seem, Democrats must provide tit-for-tat.

“Our groups were formed to answer the hundreds of millions of dollars Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have dedicated to spending in the 2012 election. In 2010, Republicans spent millions distorting the debate on important issues and running vicious, dishonest attack ads. This is an effort to level the playing field and not allow right-wing activists to hijack the political system,” the men wrote.

American Crossroads, founded by former President George W. Bush political adviser Rove, and Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire oil brothers David and Charles Koch, are hidden-donor groups in addition to the American Future Fund that spent heavily in last year’s elections. All have pledged to invest millions in 2012 to defeat Obama and other key Democrats throughout the country.

The first ad offering by the group is attributed to Priorities USA Action, which must disclose its donors, and focuses on statements made by Gingrich during a Meet the Press segment. During the show, Gingrich described the Medicare overhaul offered by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and approved by House Republicans as “radical” and a form of “right-wing extremism.”

Romney initially said that “he was on the same page” with Ryan in terms of the overhaul, but during a later policy speech in Michigan indicated that his ideas were similar but not identical with Ryan’s. The ad states: “With Mitt Romney, you have to wonder: Which page is he on today?”

Watch the ad:

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