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Reports: Special Interests Spend Big to Wine and Dine IA Legislators

July 1, 2008

Des Moines IA – Whether it's for receptions, dinners, or social events, all sorts of groups were spending a lot of money on Iowa state lawmakers during the past legislative session. The financial reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board indicated almost $200,000 spent by special interest groups on large events for state legislators.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member Patrick Stansberry says it's hard to tell if Iowa's 3 million citizen voices are being heard over all the money spent on lobby lawmakers.

"When such large amounts of money are given to state legislators it does make you wonder who has the most influence."

Stansberry says there's a lot of attention on public financing right now, with the presidential candidates discussing the outdated federal system now in use.

"There's been a lot of attention to the big money at the federal level, but people just don't realize that big money has a tremendous influence at the statehouse."

He says so-called "voter-owned" clean elections would publicly fund campaigns and stem the influence of big money in Iowa. Such laws are already working in Maine, Arizona and Connecticut.

Dick Layman/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IA