Franken Targets Grassley Over His Corporate PAC Donors

Mike Franken, Iowa’s Democratic US Senate Candidate, has been calling out Republic Chuck Grassley for accepting campaign contributions from corporations as the former Navy admiral tries to unseat the longtime senator.

Specifically, Franken’s campaign has called out the money Grassley’s received from political action committees (PACs) connected to corporations and tying those donations to how Grassley has voted on certain issues. Corporate PACs are controlled by corporations and must file that way with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). These PACs get money from the corporation but also from people connected to the business.

The Franken campaign’s attack has mostly focused on Grassley’s contributions from the pharmaceutical and agribusiness sectors.

“Chuck Grassley sold out to the corporate special interests. He took a bunch of money from the drug industry. He wrote the law to stop Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices. And blocked a law to cap the price of insulin at $35 a month,” people in one ad tell the audience.

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Franken’s campaign makes the case that those donations have influenced some of Grassley’s unpopular votes, including the vote against capping insulin prices at $35 for everyone who needs the lifesaving medication.

And according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit that tracks campaign finance started by the Center for Responsive Politics, Grassley has received hundreds of thousands from the pharmaceutical manufacturing and pharmaceutical products industries.

About $1,396,456, according to fact-checkers at the Gazette.

Another Franken ad targets the money Grassley has received from the agriculture industry. Money that makes it harder for small farmers to thrive in Iowa, according to Franken.

“Since Chuck Grassley took office, Iowa has lost half our farms. Chuck’s taken over $1 million from big ag and he’s passing laws to help them squeeze out the little guy,” Franken says in the ad.

According to US Ag Census data, Iowa had 174, 707 farms when Grassley was first elected to the Iowa Legislature in 1959. The latest Ag Census shows that Iowa has 86,104 farms.

Other industries in the agribusiness sector have also given Grassley tens of thousands, including food processing & sales, tobacco, and crop production & processing.

Franken has used Grassley’s corporate PAC donations to draw a contrast between them. He pledged not to take corporate PAC money and his filings with the FEC confirm he’s stuck to the promise.

The majority of Franken’s donors are individuals. The PACs that have contributed to his campaign are aligned with labor unions and leadership PACs, which are run by members of Congress and other candidates.

“They typically give donations to other candidates to help elect more members of their political party to build a governing majority,” End Citizens United, a group working to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, wrote.

Grassley has also had a number of non-corporate PACs and individuals contribute to his campaign.


Nikoel Hytrek

Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek

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1 Comment on "Franken Targets Grassley Over His Corporate PAC Donors"

  • Voters claim to care about campaign finance, but do they change their votes based on this issue? I doubt it. Franken needs to sharpen his dull campaign.

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