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Majority of Economic Recovery Advisory Board has financial ties to Governor’s campaign

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 6:42 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Most of the members of a newly created COVID-19 economic recovery board are heavy donors to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ campaign.

At Governor Reynolds’ last coronavirus press conference, on Thursday, she announced a new executive order creating an Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Reynolds said the new board will help set the foundation for her legislative agenda in 2021 and serve as the “tip of the spear” to assess the economic effects of COVID-19 and to identify potential recovery and growth opportunities for the state.

“There work isn’t just about moving the economic dial,” said Reynolds on Thursday. “But also about ensuring the future prosperity of our state is widespread and reaches those workers and communities who often feel left out when times are good.”

However, a majority of the 13 member board has donated large amounts of money to Governor Reynolds campaign within the last five years, according to data from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. The average donation from those board members was more than $10,000.

The chair, Ben McLean, who is the CEO of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, donated $5,000 to Kim Reynolds’ campaign in August 2018.

Mary Andringa, who donated almost $50,000 to Kim Reynold’s campaign, is also on the recovery board. She also donated more than $100,000 to former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

Randy Edeker, the CEO of Hy-Vee, is another member of the advisory board. He donated $10,000 in 2015.

Diane Young another member of the advisory board donated over $6,000 to Kim Reynolds’ campaign since 2017.

Emily Schmitt also donated to the Reynolds’ campaign in 2019.

Multiple advisory board members donated individually to the governor’s campaign and hold positions within companies with political action committees who donated even larger amounts of money.

Dan Houston, who is the Chairman, President and CEO of Principal Financial Group, gave $1,000 while Principal Life Insurance Company PAC donated around $17,000 to the Reynolds campaign.

Rosalind Fox, who is a factory manager at John Deere, donated $500 to the governor’s campaign from a North Carolina address. While the company she works for donated around $25,000 through a political action committee.

I9 found no individual donations from Adam Young, who is a board member and the President/CEO of MidAmerican Energy Company. But, his company’s political action committee donated $5,000 to the governor’s campaign.

Another board member’s financial support for the current Governor is more complicated. AJ Loss, who is the CEO of Busch Construction, has donated around $7,000 to the Master Builders of Iowa PAC. His company’s bio lists him as the former chair of that PAC, which says it’s devoted “to support pro-business and pre-construction candidates.”

The PAC gave a one-time $20,000 donation to the Governor’s campaign in 2018.

I9 reached out to the Governor’s office with questions about the economic recovery advisory board. Pat Garrett, who is the communications director, instead responded with a short emailed statement.

”These are highly-respected, qualified individuals selected by Governor Reynolds because of their expertise in various areas,” he said. “Everyone on this economic advisory board shares a common vision and passion to make Iowa the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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