Non-profit

Iowa Voices (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 Voices is a now seemingly defunct or inactive left-of-center front group that was created in March 2019 to attack U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) on the Affordable Care Act and other issues. Tax filings by the left-of-center “dark money” group the Sixteen Thirty Fund, show that the fund was a major funder of the organization, having contributed $2.9 million to it in 2019 alone. [1]

Founding and History

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. [2] Iowa Forward carried out many public-facing activities under the name Iowa Voices.

The Des Moines Register reported that within six months of being established, Iowa Voices had purchased $600,000 worth of television and digital ads that attacked Republican Senator Joni Ernst on health care and other issues. At the time, Iowa Voices’ communications director, Ben Colby, 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. At the time, in August 2019, the Iowa Voices website did not have a way to make donations to the group, and Colby assured the Des Moines Register that one would be coming, but as of March 2021 there remained no obvious way for the general public to make donations to the group on its website. [3]

By December 2019, The Intercept reported that the group had spent $1.4 million in attack ads targeting Ernst. [4] FCC records indicate that the last ad buys from the group ran at the beginning of May 2020. [5] The group appears to have ceased activity in the summer of 2020, with no website updates, or Twitter activity after July 31, 2020. [6]

Senator Ernst ultimately defeated her Democratic challenger by over 6.5 points. [7]

Finances

Iowa Forward’s tax filings and formation are not yet available from the IRS, so the group’s organization and finances are not yet public information. As noted above, a representative of the group declined to name its funding source. However, tax filings by the left-of-center “dark money” group the Sixteen Thirty Fund, show that the fund was a major funder of the organization, having contributed $2.9 million to it in 2019 alone. [8]

Issues

Healthcare

The main emphasis of Iowa Voice’s attack on Sen. Ernst was on her record seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act and other health care related issues. The group states that healthcare is a human right and opposes efforts to allow insurance companies to charge older people or people with pre-existing conditions more. The group also supports legislation that would allow the federal government to regulate the price of pharmaceutical drugs. Additionally, it attacked Ernst and Republicans for not supporting sufficient federally guaranteed paid parental leave. [9]

Economic Issues

Iowa Voices demands higher taxes on high-income earners and businesses and demands that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. [10]

Agriculture

Iowa Voices opposed former President Donald Trump’s tariffs against China, arguing that the retaliatory actions by the Chinese led to a “trade war” that hurt Iowa’s farmers. [11]

Activism

Iowa Voices sought out and published interviews with Iowans with health issues or who worked on the health care industry. Many accounts blamed Sen. Ernst for their health care difficulties. 16 accounts were published, of which two were labeled as being anonymously authored. [12] [13]

In a similar vein, Iowa Voices ran three 31-second ads attacking Joni Ernst on healthcare issues that featured medical personnel and Iowans with pre-existing conditions. [14]

Iowa Voices also had a presence at functions like the Iowa State Fair and political functions with billboards criticizing Ernst. [15]

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 March 19, 2021. https://sos.iowa.gov/search/business/summary.aspx?q=80Mwj_W3ShhSIy8y_HyCgyY5yxUN93gsFXA5jliodw6P7Z_1qZAXn3uKcXA1-MvfcdkgGgsmxBdegCjFnH0mSneEZ5MUTGyYI5CX9i7lDCCBHuOuZs1LR5qTsKErD2G1TzTy2usnvwfPxVpNLFFwz7ZDxTQo6OtQB0Kq5gA10ht_spUiVRAbJ0DNWaq6fYWleDUBM8Utu-7ylwkLPBg-_m0N5a6SbBm8wOAFlFn74dxznj5EqNDK66nDwU7BcnaYRHIhzAhNW023XUiN_nFU6-cUL9czXXXBII5SUPedNXINbXWjCig0XyCIYWIxApM58J0B24hy6nHxVLFmuT-8q0RO-gK5oxiqwh_FAqmSnS70YKv3nPAHsf75cF-N-0VQabnHEIPuTW0ETTUNXi4yOA2. ^
  3. 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/. ^
  4. 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/. ^
  5. “FCC Public Inspection Files: Iowa Forward.” PublicFiles.fcc.gov. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://publicfiles.fcc.gov/find/iowa%20forward/page-offset-0/order-best-match/filter-[%7B%22campaign_year%22:%222020%22%7D,%7B%22create_ts%22:%2204/01/2020%20-%2011/30/2020%22%7D]/#files. ^
  6. “@IowaVoices Twitter.” Twitter.com. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://twitter.com/IowaVoices. ^
  7. “Iowa U.S. Senate Election Results.” The New York Times, sec. U.S. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/11/03/us/elections/results-iowa-senate.html. ^
  8. Sixteen Thirty Fund. (Form 990). 2019. Schedule I. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/11/Sixteen-Thirty-Fund-2019-990.pdf ^ ^
  9. “Iowa Voices.” IowaVoices.org. Accessed March 22, 2021. https://www.iowavoices.org. ^
  10. “Iowa Voices.” IowaVoices.org. Accessed March 22, 2021. https://www.iowavoices.org. ^
  11. “Iowa Voices.” IowaVoices.org. Accessed March 22, 2021. https://www.iowavoices.org. ^
  12. Cook, Josh. “Iowa Voices Is Looking For Health Care Stories.” Iowa Starting Line, November 18, 2019. https://iowastartingline.com/2019/11/18/iowa-voices-is-looking-for-health-care-stories/. ^
  13. “Stories From the Heartland.” IowaVoices.org. Accessed March 22, 2021. https://www.iowavoices.org/stories. ^
  14. “Iowa Voices YouTube.” Youtube.com. Accessed March 22, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8kX6a0xKwE. ^
  15. 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/. ^
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Iowa Voices (Iowa Forward)

570 JUNIPER AVE
KELLOGG, IA 50135