State Sen. Jim Carlin, the Republican primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, discussed concerns he has about Grassley’s donations to Republican Iowa House candidates as well as the Iowa House Majority Fund and the timing of Grassley’s exclusive interest in the House chamber.
Carlin said Chuck Grassley gave $251,000 to 57 Republican candidates for the Iowa House — just before Pat Grassley ran for Speaker of the Iowa House. The volume in donations plus the exclusivity of them had not been seen before.
“He had never done anything like that before,” Carlin said. “Just House candidates. Are we connecting the dots?”
Grassley’s “Hawkeye PAC” had a history of donating to some Iowa House and Iowa Senate candidates since 2004. But in 2018, there was a clear shift.
In the 2018 calendar year, Hawkeye PAC donations went to 57 different Republicans running for the Iowa House. One year later, Representative Pat Grassley was selected as Speaker of the Iowa House after Linda Upmeyer stepped down from the role.
The decision, which came down to former Rep. Chris Hagenow and Rep. Pat Grassley, was decided by just a couple of votes. And, Carlin said, if one were to simply “follow the money,” they would definitely question if Grandpa Grassley bought the Speaker’s job for Pat.
“I don’t know why anybody didn’t look on Open Secrets to look at the inside baseball of the money,” Carlin said. “We get to 2020, remember how important — 2020 was so important. We got the presidency, we got the Senate, the House — they’re all on the line right.”
Carlin talked about the Senate majority being on the line in Georgia.
“This is a big deal,” he said. “Big deal. Chuck gave $535,000 to the Iowa House Majority Fund and another $140,000 to individual House candidates. Here’s the scary part folks. That was 71 percent of his PAC money that went to the Iowa House — which pretty much had a lock on a majority at a time when the Senate that he serves in was being lost. Not a lot of money found its way into those races, folks. Can you ask yourself why? Please, ask yourself why. Why? Why? What’s more important — your grandson being speaker, or maintaining a Senate majority, a presidency, Congress? You all know the answer to that question — don’t we? Unfortunately, Sen. Grassley didn’t, and he made the wrong choice.”
According to FEC filings, the Hawkeye PAC did not make any donations to Kelley Loeffler or David Perdue’s campaigns in the window of time between the November general election and the January election in which control of the United States Senate was determined.
Perdue lost by about 55,000 votes. Loeffler lost by about 93,000.
When examining the numbers of the Hawkeye PAC, it is clear Chuck Grassley began giving to the Iowa House like he hadn’t before. It is unknown when Pat Grassley and Chuck Grassley learned that Upmeyer would be stepping down as Speaker.
Worth noting, however, is the fact that Chuck Grassley served in the Iowa House with Upmeyer’s father, Del Stromer, who once served as Speaker of the Iowa House himself. And, it is also worth noting that the Hawkeye PAC gave Upmeyer $70,000 in donations directly in 2018. Again, a move that was unprecedented in the history of the PAC.
According to FEC filings, the Hawkeye PAC contributed:
09/22/2020: $141,000 to the Iowa House Majority Fund
09/11/2020: $124,000 to the Iowa HMF
10/14/2020: $120,000 to the Iowa HMF
10/14/2020: $100,000 to the Iowa HMF
10/28/2020: $50,000 to the Iowa HMF
That is a huge increase and does coincide with the election after his grandson was chosen as Speaker by the majority of Iowa House Republicans. It is also nothing the Hawkeye PAC had done prior to Pat Grassley assuming the role of Speaker of the Iowa House.
For those who are not aware, the Iowa House Majority Fund is essentially a “pool” for money to help Republicans maintain control of the Iowa House. Once the money is pooled together, a small group of people decides which campaigns receive help from that fund — with the Speaker of the House having a huge, huge, huge say in where that money goes.