The Iowa Independent reports this morning that new Iowa State Senator Sandy Greiner (R-Keota) will keep her position as president of the American Future Fund, an organization that spent $9.6 million (undisclosed) on federal races around the country in 2010. This decision is taking some heat.
My friend Adam Mason at Iowa CCI puts it succinctly: “Greiner was elected to serve her constituents, but if she’s also in charge of distributing millions of dollars in secret special interest cash, it raises real questions as to whether she represents everyday Iowans or the millionaires likely funding the American Future Fund. I bet it makes her constituents wonder, too.”
He’s right. For the most part, we don’t know who’s funding the group, though a New York Times article from October showed that big energy interests are likely playing a major role.
The whole situation, in which a sitting lawmaker is expected to remain impartial as she also tries to raise money for a political group, is “like putting our pay-to-play system on steroids,” our own David Donnelly told the reporter.
At the federal level, under McCain-Feingold, its illegal for an elected official to fundraise for political groups like the American Future Fund or so-called “527” political committees. If she was a member of Congress, a good case could be made she was breaking the law.
She’s not in Congress, though, and she may have just enough wiggle room in Iowa law to get by. It might not be illegal, but it's definitely wrong.