Liberal groups to Joni Ernst: Keep the ethanol cash flowing


Two new ads unveiled on Wednesday take aim at Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst for her controversial remarks on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Controversial, because Ernst is running in corn-rich Iowa where ethanol is big business. That, combined with a Washington fundraiser hosted by representatives from ExxonMobil’s political action committee, has turned into fodder for Democratic groups looking to gain an edge in the competitive race.

The state’s Democratic party committee paid for one of the ads while NextGen Climate Action, a super PAC funded by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer sponsored the other. And statements from NextGen indicate there’s plenty more attacks coming.

The two newest ads hammer the same talking points and follow a familiar narrative: a candidate selling out voters in exchange contributions from shady special interests.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s online ad:

The ad from NextGen Climate Action, a super PAC founded by Steyer and focused on environmental issues:

The Iowa Democratic Party, pointing to a “fundraiser” for Ernst hosted by ExxonMobil lobbyists, tells viewers that “Iowans can’t trust Ernst because she stands with big oil and their big money,” mentioning the American Petroleum Institute and the omnipresent Koch brothers.

The online ad tells viewers that oil interests have coalesced behind Ernst because of her “philosophical” opposition to the RFS.

NextGen Climate Action estimates it has put $2.6 million into television ads in the Senate race. Wednesday’s ominous spot — featuring a mysterious villain and a suitcase of cash — hits Ernst for signing Grover Norquist’s “taxpayer protection pledge,” which the group says will lead to more outsourced jobs, hurting “Iowan farmers, workers and [the state’s] clean energy economy.”

In a statement to Sunlight made on background, a NextGen Climate official further emphasized Ernst’s stance on energy and renewable fuels:

The ads are the latest in a string of messages dumping on Ernst for supposedly selling out to big oil. A radio ad from Americans United for Change tells listeners that Ernst’s ExxonMobil fundraiser is payback for opposing ethanol, while a TV ad from the Senate Majority PAC lambastes the candidate for sharing the Koch brothers’ priorities, including privatizing social security and cutting medicare’s guaranteed benefit “all to pay for more tax breaks to oil billionaires.”

See an invite to Joni Ernst’s fundraiser, collected by Political Party Time, below:

Reception for Joni Ernst by Sunlight Foundation

Palmer Gibbs contributing