Who funded them? A breakdown of the biggest donors in local state legislative races

In the state legislative elections for the House and Senate districts covering Grundy County, labor unions and environmental groups were the biggest donors to the Democrats, while agricultural and industry associations contributed the most funding to Republicans.


A Grundy Register review of filings with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board in 2017 and 2018 revealed that the local Republican candidates—State Senator Annette Sweeney and State Representative Pat Grassley—received nearly $320,000 worth of campaign contributions, while their challengers Tracy Freese (D-Dike) and Dennis Evans (D-Reinbeck) took in just over $100,000 combined.  Grassley, a six-term incumbent, and Sweeney, who served as a state representative from 2008 to 2012 before redistricting forced the two Republicans to face each other in a primary, have received contributions prior to 2017 that were not included in this story.


House District 50

Grassley, who serves as the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, remains a fundraising force within the state GOP as Citizens for Pat Grassley, his campaign organization, raked in just shy of $200,000 ($198,344.17) over the last two years.


Jim Cownie, a wealthy Des Moines business magnate, made the largest single contribution to Grassley’s campaign ($10,000), and he also received major donations from Political Actions Committees (PACs) like the Iowa Realtors PAC ($10,000 over two separate donations), Iowa Health PAC ($10,000 over three separate contributions), the Master Builders of Iowa PAC ($9,000 over six donations), Bankers Unite in Legislative Decisions ($8,500 over four contributions) and the Justice for All PAC ($5,500 over two contributions).


Deb Hansen, the wife of Iowa Select Farms founder and CEO Jeff Hansen, gave $5,000 to Grassley’s campaign committee, and Peterson Contractors Inc. (PCI) founder Cordell Peterson of Reinbeck gave the same amount. In all, Grassley received 47 individual donations of $500 or more. 


Read the full story in this week's Grundy Register. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here.