Democratic Iowa Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield was accused of breaking campaign finance rules by pretending to use volunteers in order to circumvent limits on campaign contributions, Fox News reported Wednesday.
Alan Ostergren, an attorney who has represented the Iowa GOP and the Republican National Committee, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) alleging that the Iowa Democratic Party has given Greenfield more than $1 million of in-kind contributions, according to the Fox News report. The maximum allowance of $4,000 can only be exceeded if the contributions came as a result of volunteer labor.
The complaint against Greenfield, who is running against Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, came after a reporter for conservative media watchdog Accuracy in Media recorded a staffer at an event saying that in order to meet FEC requirements, they would have volunteers pose for pictures. (RELATED: Democrats And Journalists Circulate Fake Email Saying Iowa Farm Bureau Retracted Endorsement For Joni Ernst)
Adam Guillette, President of Accuracy in Media, told Fox News that the group went to an event and discovered that the Greenfield campaign staff didn’t actually use volunteer labor.
“They have volunteers take a few photos to pretend to be doing the work,” Guillette said. “This is potentially a major FEC violation.”
“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,” Ostergren said in the complaint according to Fox News.
Greenfield for Iowa Communications Director Sam Newton told Fox News that the accusation were a “false, partisan attack.”
“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,” Newton said.
The accusations are “no surprise as Theresa Greenfield has a history of corruption,” Ernst spokesperson Brendan Conley told Fox News. Aaron Britt, the communications director for the Iowa GOP, said that Greenfield has a “history of using shady campaign tactics, even resorting to illegal activity.”
The Iowa Democratic Party could claim the money as either “coordinated party expenditures” or contributions, but $1 million still far exceeds the maximum amount allowed for either. Coordinated party expenditures are capped at $251,800 in Iowa, and the maximum amount allowed in contributions is $5,000 per year per candidate committee, according to Fox News.
Guillette also accused the Greenfield campaign of breaking Postal Service rules to send mail at reduced rates, Fox News reported.
The Iowa Democratic Party is allowed to send mail at reduced rates for certain materials only if the Greenfield campaign isn’t involved, according to the report. However, Greenfield had organized an event in Des Moines, which was filmed by Accuracy in Media, where the Greenfield campaign was involved in coordinating volunteers and signing people in. A video from the watchdog group showed a man explaining how the campaign was getting a discounted mail rate.
The FEC complaint filed Wednesday is the third complaint to be filed against Greenfield, Fox reported.
Iowa Republican Wes Enos accused the Greenfield campaign of coordinating communications with the Senate Majority PAC that were worth more than $900,000, according to the report. A similar allegation was made against Greenfield in March, and the FEC has flagged her for illegal contributions in the past.
In 2018, Greenfield’s first petition to get on the Democratic primary ballot in Iowa’s third district was pulled after forgeries were discovered according to the report. Noah Wasserman, Greenfield’s former campaign manager, pleaded guilty to 5 counts of tampering with records.
The Iowa Senate race is closely contested, with a recent New York Times/Sienna College poll showing Ernst leading Greenfield by just 1 point.