Non-profit

Iowa Forward

Website:

www.iowavoices.org

Location:

KELLOGG, IA

Tax ID:

83-4467448

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Type:

Election Advocacy Group

Formation:

2019

Executive Director:

Emily Holley

Iowa Forward is a left-of-center advocacy group that was created in March 2019 to attack U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) ahead of her 2020 reelection campaign, which she ultimately won. The organization’s only identifiable activity is running the Iowa Voices campaign, which attacks Republican U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst on the Affordable Care Act, paid family leave, and other issues. Tax filings by the left-of-center “dark money” group Sixteen Thirty Fund show that Sixteen Thirty was a major funder of Iowa Forward, having contributed $2.9 million to it in 2019 and $1.2 million in 2020. [1] [2]

The organization drew scrutiny from mainstream media as a result of a Politico report on left-of-center “dark money” group Sixteen Thirty Fund spending $410 million during the 2020 election. [3] [4]

Background

Iowa Forward was registered with the state of Iowa on March 21, 2019, under the name Heartland Forward. The name was later changed to Iowa Forward. Iowa Forward’s only identifiable activity is operating a campaign called Iowa Voices which supports a variety of left-leaning healthcare policies and has attacked Senator Joni Ernst on her votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Iowa Voices has also expressed support for left-leaning paid family leave policies, a $15 minimum wage, and opposed the Trump administration’s tariffs on China. [5] [6]

Iowa Voices

Within six months of being established, Iowa Forward, operating under the name Iowa Voices, had purchased $600,000 worth of television and digital ads that attacked Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) on health care and other issues. At the time, the organization’s communications director declined to name the organization’s funding sources, simply stating that it was funded by “folks who share our mission” regarding the Affordable Care Act. In August 2019, it was pointed out by some categorizing Iowa Forward as a “dark money” group that the Iowa Voices website did not have a way to make donations to the group, and the organization assured the Des Moines Register that one would be coming. As of November 2021, there was no way for the general public to make donations to the group on its website. [7] [8] [9]

By December 2019 the group had spent $1.4 million in attack ads targeting Ernst and there was no activity from the organization after May 2020. Senator Ernst ultimately defeated her Democratic challenger by over 6.5 points. [10] [11]

Ongoing Activity

It is unknown as of November 2021 whether Iowa Forward is still active as government records indicate that the last ad buys from the group ran at the beginning of May 2020 and the group appears to have ceased activity in the summer of 2020, with no website updates or Twitter activity after July 31, 2020. [12]

Finances

Iowa Forward’s tax filings and formation are not yet available from the IRS and the group has publicly declined to name its funding source. However, tax filings by the left-of-center “dark money” group Sixteen Thirty Fund show that the fund was a major funder of the organization, having contributed $2.9 million to it in 2019 and $1.2 million in 2020 as part of the Sixteen Thirty Fund’s $410 million push to win control of the White House and U.S. Senate for Democrats in 2020. [13]

References

  1. Sixteen Thirty Fund. (Form 990). 2019. Schedule I. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/11/Sixteen-Thirty-Fund-2019-990.pdf ^
  2. Business Entity Summary: Iowa Forward.” SoS.Iowa.gov. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://sos.iowa.gov/search/business/summary.aspx?q=zi1XqG6yT0OJzAAps6uswtOrhOC-8PnX47mIzgLenFuRmDWtreYpLIe-MYMIS-aAorrcIwOAMcU1gXvV5zxEtIKWdY3mdS1pT7bot5CFVg4F-7nAouneeRWhNShXI8L8k2JGuM-xchhC_eGhPJOS0OK5ixckTxt86fPAPt1PXJVSFOs1Dj5rrt9d5ICtR7STOvm4s4dVGrE7nJWtSVMEl3ltoKtgK1yAWXYTZQc38pbZznnHlNGLA3KK9So32Y5-4HAxBjdi587n7xYXv9EHfY0RFFqP-5WOSuNmsaVrym14EUYi4RlapRi9re9Pdv2AgI-fqKv3mYXFpt3KPqZH3ixPQImIArcrpKg68hWUFvzHylf5pYfGvvmIdUX2gSD_rNBtaUX6rFWpCkKeJRNqcA2 ^
  3. Bland, Scott. “Liberal ‘dark-money’ behemoth funneled more than $400M in 2020.” Politico. November 17, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2021.  https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/17/dark-money-sixteen-thirty-fund-522781 ^
  4. “Sixteen Thirty Fund IRS Form 990.” Politico. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000017d-2e2b-df97-a9ff-be7fdd190000 ^
  5. “Business Entity Summary: Iowa Forward.” SoS.Iowa.gov. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://sos.iowa.gov/search/business/summary.aspx?q=zi1XqG6yT0OJzAAps6uswtOrhOC-8PnX47mIzgLenFuRmDWtreYpLIe-MYMIS-aAorrcIwOAMcU1gXvV5zxEtIKWdY3mdS1pT7bot5CFVg4F-7nAouneeRWhNShXI8L8k2JGuM-xchhC_eGhPJOS0OK5ixckTxt86fPAPt1PXJVSFOs1Dj5rrt9d5ICtR7STOvm4s4dVGrE7nJWtSVMEl3ltoKtgK1yAWXYTZQc38pbZznnHlNGLA3KK9So32Y5-4HAxBjdi587n7xYXv9EHfY0RFFqP-5WOSuNmsaVrym14EUYi4RlapRi9re9Pdv2AgI-fqKv3mYXFpt3KPqZH3ixPQImIArcrpKg68hWUFvzHylf5pYfGvvmIdUX2gSD_rNBtaUX6rFWpCkKeJRNqcA2 ^
  6. “Home.” Iowa Voices. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.iowavoices.org/ ^
  7. Evers-Hillstrom, Karl, and Nick Coltrain. “Anonymously Funded Groups Already Drop $1M on Joni Ernst’s 2020 Senate Race, ‘Medicare for All.’” Des Moines Register, August 27, 2019. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2019/08/27/joni-ernst-medicare-for-all-karl-rove-millions-spending-fundraising-transparency-campaign-senate/2088998001/ ^
  8. Lacy, Akela. “Dark-Money Groups Back Democratic Efforts to Retake Senate.” TheIntercept.com, February 24, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2020/02/24/dark-money-democrats-senate-2020-elections/ ^
  9. “Home.” Iowa Voices. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.iowavoices.org/ ^
  10. “Joni Ernst.” Ballotpedia. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Joni_Ernst ^
  11. Lacy, Akela. “Dark-Money Groups Back Democratic Efforts to Retake Senate.” TheIntercept.com, February 24, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2020/02/24/dark-money-democrats-senate-2020-elections/ ^
  12. “Home.” Iowa Voices. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.iowavoices.org/ ^
  13. “Sixteen Thirty Fund IRS Form 990.” Politico. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000017d-2e2b-df97-a9ff-be7fdd190000 ^
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Iowa Forward

570 JUNIPER AVE
KELLOGG, IA 50135