First Critical Ad Up In 3rd District Primary, Other Hits Surface

Just mid-last week, the campaigns of Jim Mowrer and Mike Sherzan were discussing a pledge to keep things positive for the remainder of the 3rd District primary. Whatever loose agreement they constructed quickly went out the window at the 3rd District debate last Wednesday, though the criticisms there of each other were relatively light.

Democrats in the Des Moines/Council Bluffs district have wondered for a while if the candidates would begin criticizing each other, given that some believe that Sherzan and Mowrer could end up in a very tight race on election night.

Today, however, the 3rd District race has moved into a new phase, with Mowrer running a TV ad hitting Sherzan on his banking ties and Wall Street regulations. Meanwhile, on another front, a Des Moines resident attempted to push to media a FEC complaint that they filed about Mowrer’s past campaign spending.

Democrats in Des Moines saw on their television this morning the following ad from Mowrer’s campaign, which Iowa Starting Line has obtained and posted on our YouTube page:

This is my transcript from the ad:

“The greed and recklessness of Wall Street almost destroyed our economy here on Main Street. And in this election, that matters. Because while banker Mike Sherzan was fighting to weaken President Obama’s Wall Street reform laws, Democrat Jim Mowrer was serving President Obama at the Pentagon. In Congress Jim Mowrer will fight any attempt that weakens Iowa’s Main Streets from the greed of Wall Street.”

The effort by Sherzan to “weaken” Obama’s reforms that Mowrer is referring to apparently stems from this report from this meeting between Federal Reserve Staff and members of the Iowa Bankers Association. In it the banker representatives talked about the difficulties they’ve faced with the Dodd-Frank legislation. In the document, the bankers commented that “Community banks are struggling with the overwhelming level of regulatory activity.”

I am not even going to attempt to pretend to know much about banking regulatory policy minutia, so readers can sift through the document themselves and make their own conclusions.

Sherzan’s campaign blasted the content and tone of the ad, and suggested that it was done because Sherzan is seeing momentum going into Election Day.

“Today Jim Mowrer launched a dishonest attack against Mike Sherzan,” the Sherzan campaign said in a statement. “The truth is, Mike has never been a banker, and he has always supported strict regulations for Wall Street. Mike is proud of his record running a business that helped everyday Iowans invest for secure retirements, while sharing profits with employees and paying women fairly.”

“It’s especially disappointing that Jim Mowrer decided to launch this desperate attack ad, after personally calling Mike and giving his word that he would not run a negative campaign,” they continued. “Today, Mowrer broke his pledge to Mike and revealed his true colors to the voters of Iowa’s Third District.”

Several activists and leaders supporting Mowrer’s campaign defended the ad.

“We’ve all seen attack ads,” said Jill June, former director of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “This was no attack ad. It wasn’t grainy, or mean, or distorted. It provided facts—facts I’m glad I learned before Tuesday.”

“Wall Street reform is important to me,” added Scot Albertson, President Omaha/Southwest Iowa Building Trades Council. “I think it’s important to a lot of Iowans. I’m glad all three candidates have behaved as gentlemen and I do not think that this is in any way a negative ad.”

Sherzan isn’t alone in new scrutiny for his background. A Des Moines resident, Adam Burke, sent out an email Monday night to select media about a FEC complaint he filed over Mowrer’s past use of campaign funds to pay himself a salary and healthcare. It alleges that Mowrer broke campaign finance laws by accepting $10,037 to himself personally from his campaign account after the campaign ended in 2014. Those payments were listed as “Healthcare Reimbursements,” “Payroll,” or “Salary.”

The person claims to be a supporter of Desmund Adams, but Adams strenuously denied to Starting Line that he’d ever heard of the person. The man gave no further evidence that he’s a backer of Adams than simply saying he was, and the email itself contains almost an entire dump of opposition research on Mowrer, including issues well beyond the FEC – something that the Adams campaign hasn’t compiled. And it certainly seemed like more than a random voter would have researched. The whole thing seems peculiar – read it here (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3).

[Update: Starting Line took a visit by Burke’s house tonight that was listed on the FEC complaint. He was home and I asked him whether he filed the FEC form and emailed it to me.

“Yes, listen, whatever I said in that, in that email, that’s all I got to say,” Burke told me.

I then asked if anyone told him to send it or if he was actually a supporter of Desmund Adams.

“That’s all I got to say about it,” Burke said, politely directing me out his door. “That’s all I got to say about it.”]

Burke also claimed in the email that the FEC has actually launched an investigation into Mowrer, but the evidence he shows is simply a form letter from the FEC acknowledging receipt of his complaint. Starting Line followed up with the FEC, and they said all they could confirm was the receipt.

Some recent poll calls were conducted in the district last month testing voters’ reactions specifically to Mowrer’s campaign spending – those polls appeared to come from Sherzan’s campaign.

Mowrer’s campaign dismissed the issue.

“Unfortunately this is a weak attempt to attack Jim because he is winning. It’s disappointing politics as usual,” Mowrer’s campaign said in a statement. “Jim Mowrer is in full compliance with the FEC and their guidelines. Jim has support from Democrats across the 3rd District and from every part of the Democratic Party and is the progressive fighter we need to take on David Young in November.”


by Pat Rynard
Posted 6/1/16

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