Fact Check: National Republican attack ad goes after Teresa Greenfield’s record, makes dubious claims

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 6:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - With the November election now less than four months away, campaign ads are appearing on Iowa television even more frequently. The I9 Fact Check team analyzes one in the hotly-contested U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.

Source: A television ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee attacks Greenfield on her ability to help small businesses and stand up to corporations.

It’s the second ad in this race from the NRSC and features a seemingly independent store owner admonishing Greenfield’s values. It’s important to note, though, that store owner is Scott Valencia of the Northside Café in Winterset and was a registered lobbyist for the Iowa Right to Life Committee. His restaurant also named a sandwich for then-candidate Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election. That said, we did find at least one Democratic event held at the restaurant ahead of this year’s Iowa Caucuses.

Claim: Greenfield ran a real estate business that kicked mom and pop businesses to the curb. She even signed the notices herself.

Analysis: This claim stems from the redevelopment of Apple Valley Shopping Center in Windsor Heights in 2015 by Colby Interests, where Theresa Greenfield is president.

The development called for tearing down the strip mall to build an Aldi grocery store and two other retail buildings. To do that, Colby sent notices to the existing tenants about two months before they had to move out, though the owners said they knew it was coming before then. Tenants had the option to stay and pay higher rents, but most chose to move out. Those stores included locally owned sporting goods stores, a pool hall, and others.

The notice shown in a KCCI report includes Greenfield’s signature as the company’s president, noting the company was terminating a month-to-month lease agreement. Those written notices from landlords are required under Iowa law to terminate a lease agreement and Colby gave significantly more than the required 30-day notice.

Ultimately, the Windsor Heights City Council voted down the Aldi and only minor renovations took place. The Apple Valley Shopping Center still houses several small businesses along with MidwestOne Bank and a MedPharm cannabis dispensary.

Conclusion: Greenfield’s business ultimately forced locally owned tenants to move out. But it was not an eviction and Greenfield’s company provided more notice than is required by law. Stores did have the option to stay and the development allowed other small businesses to move in – two facts the ad omits, which is why this gets a C.

Claim: “Greenfield supports job-killing tax hikes making it harder for small businesses to recover.”

Analysis: The article the ad cites is an op-ed from Greenfield called “The GOP Tax Plan Won’t Work for Rural Iowans.” In it, Greenfield argues that the 2017 GOP tax cuts will hurt small farmers.

It’s important to note Greenfield had no vote on the GOP tax plan because she was not a member of congress. Instead, she was a candidate for congress at the time. The article makes no citation on any tax hike Greenfield has voted to support.

Conclusion: The argument here is that opposing a tax cut is the same as supporting a tax hike but that lacks merit. Not everyone saw a tax cut under the GOP plan and Greenfield’s opposition was actually based on the increased tax burden she feared would be placed on small farmers. This claim gets a D.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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