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December 7th, 2009

Conlin’s “Crawford Exception”

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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ConlinTIRThe focus of Roxanne Conlin’s campaign for the United States Senate is pretty simple. First, take on special interests groups and political action committees that have too much influence in American politics. Second, remind people that her opponent Senator Chuck Grassley has held elected office for over fifty years.

Those are the two issues that create the foundation of Roxanne Conlin’s campaign, and that strategy makes a lot of sense. The current political environment should make any incumbent nervous, let alone a U.S. Senator who is finishing his fifth term.

Conlin has also said that she will not take contributions to her campaign from lobbyists and political action committees. Truth be told, she doesn’t need to accept contributions through those sources because they are unlikely to give to a Grassley challenger anyway. Furthermore, she is independently wealthy and can fund her campaign with the millions of dollars she received in the Microsoft settlement.

While Conlin’s strategy to draw a stark contrast between Grassley and herself is wise, thus far, she has not shown the discipline required to make it a credible campaign issue. For example, when Conlin announced her candidacy, she said, “I will not accept financial contributions from political action committees or lobbyists.” Then 10 days later, Conlin said, “I make an exception for state lobbyists,” while looking at Jerry Crawford. Crawford, an Iowa democratic powerbroker, had just introduced Conlin at a campaign rally before a Democratic Party event featuring Vice President Joe Biden.

Conlin’s “Crawford Exception” seems like the typical loophole only a skilled trial attorney would find for a client. When Conlin announced that her campaign didn’t have a problem taking contributions by non-federal lobbyist, she lost the stark contrast that her campaign is built upon. Complicating matters is the fact that Crawford is now a federal lobbyist for Monsanto. Crawford was hired because of his close friendship with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

If Conlin is really going to fight against special interests, she should start by fighting the ones that exist in her own campaign. She should close the loophole that allows her campaign to accept contributions from non-federal lobbyists. She should also return any contribution that Crawford might have given her campaign, and she should ask that Crawford’s involvement in her campaign cease immediately.

If she cannot prevent special interests groups from permeating her campaign, how can Iowans expect her to fight special interests in Washington, D.C.? Conlin’s “principled” stance to prevent special interests groups from donating to her campaign is really no different than President Obama promise that no lobbyist would work for his administration. They are great sound bites and rhetoric on the campaign trail, but neither candidate was serious about following through with their promise.

The only thing that makes Roxanne Conlin a credible candidate is the size of her bank account. So far, everything else is a joke.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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