I9 FACT CHECK: Heckroth ad attacks Finkenauer on minimum wage

Published: Jun. 1, 2018 at 5:07 PM CDT
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A new ad put out by Thomas Heckroth’s campaign is attacking fellow democrat Abby Finkenauer. Both Heckroth and Finkenauer are hoping to win their party’s nomination to run against Republican Rod Blum for Iowa’s first congressional district seat. I9 has dug into the claims made in the ad and our Gazette/TV9 fact check team has given it a grade.

CLAIM: “Abby Finkenauer opposes a $15 minimum wage. That’s right. Fineknauer is a no on raising the wage to $15.”

SOURCE: TV Ad from the Thomas Heckroth campaign in Iowa’s First Congressional District.


Heckroth has touted his push for a federal $15 per hour minimum wage as a key platform in the democratic primary for Iowa’s First Congressional District. In a questionnaire to candidates from the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, Heckroth, as well as George Ramsey and Courtney Rowe, specifically endorse raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Abby Finkenauer, however, takes a more nuanced stance. In her response, Finkenauer echoes what she has said in debates and other interviews: she wants a living wage tied to inflation.

“I strongly support increasing the minimum wage to a living wage in which all those who work full time are able to support a family on their earnings and indexing that wage to inflation to prevent future political fights,” Finkenauer writes.

A living wage is defined as an income that is enough to meet basic needs like food and housing. The wage varies based on family size and location. A living wage calculator from MIT estimates a living wage in Iowa ranges from $10.53/hour for a single adult to $32.89 for an adult with three children. In California, with a higher cost of living, those wages jump to $14.01/hour to $46.15/hour, respectively. A 2016 study from the Iowa Policy Project as part of efforts to raise Linn County’s minimum wage estimated a $10.10 minimum wage was needed for a “living wage”.

Finkenauer’s campaign notes she never said she is against a $15 minimum wage and that she supports raising all wages in Iowa. In the Iowa legislature, Finkenauer voted against the Home Rule bill, which repealed efforts in Johnson and Linn County to raise local minimum wages.


Finkenauer has never specifically endorsed a $15 minimum wage, that we could find. She is instead pushing for a living wage that would vary from state to state and be tied to the cost of living. In Iowa, that likely would not mean $15 per hour but it could in other areas where the cost of living is higher.

More importantly, we could not find any time that Finkenauer specifically opposed a $15 per hour minimum wage. That’s why this ad gets an ‘F’