DES MOINES—State Rep. Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from state lobbyists for his nascent congressional bid even though similar donations are illegal for state legislators to accept during the legislative session.
A review of Federal Election Commission filings shows that Murphy, a former Speaker of the Iowa House, has accepted $2,625 from at least seven registered Iowa lobbyists. Murphy is the only announced Democratic candidate for the open U.S. House seat in Iowa’s First Congressional District.
Murphy, an unabashed liberal, will likely irk Democrats when they discover that he accepted $250 from a lobbyist for Koch Industries—the enterprise owned by billionaires and liberal boogeymen Charles and David Koch. Koch lobbyist Brice Oakley, a former Republican state representative and assistant state attorney general, cut Murphy the check last month.
Murphy’s actions aren’t a violation of campaign finance law because the contributions to Murphy’s congressional campaign fall under federal law (which allows lobbyist contributions to candidates at any time). Murphy, though, must follow Iowa law dealing with his state-level campaign account. His practice clashes with the spirit of Iowa’s law—misguided as it may be—to curb donations from lobbyists to legislatures while the statehouse is open for business.
Murphy doesn’t just accept lobbyist contributions: he’s renting office space from his brother’s lobbying firm. Murphy’s brother donated $625 to Murphy’s campaign, including a $125 in-kind contribution for office space, according to Murphy’s quarterly filing with the FEC.
Larry Murphy of L&L Murphy Consulting & Assoc., lobbies for clients including California Renewable Energies, LCC, the Linn County Board of Supervisors, fertilizer plant operator SynGest, Inc., the Urban County Coaliton and the fun-loving Iowa Chapter of American Society of Home Inspectors.
Murphy, the mayor of Oelwein, is a former Democratic state legislator. His current job combines both gigs: he’s paid $60,000 per year to represent Cedar Rapids in Des Moines as their chief lobbyist, according to the Gazette.
Beyond family ties, Murphy’s connection to the Des Moines influence establishment seems evident:
- Frank Chiodo, a Des Moines-based lobbyist for Cornerstone Government Affairs, gave Murphy’s campaign $250. Chiodo lobbies for the Associated General Contractors of Iowa, Go The Distance LLC (the Dyersville Field of Dreams boondoggle), McDonald’s Corp., MidAmerican Energy Co., Riverside Casino & Golf Resort and United Healthcare Services, Inc. Cornerstone is a D.C.-based lobbying powerhouse with offices around the country. Chiodo, the deputy Secretary of State under Michael Mauro, also worked with the administration of Gov. Tom Vilsack and Sen. Tom Harkin’s 2002 campaign.
- Oakley, the Koch lobbyist who donated $250 to Murphy, also represents the Baxter Healthcare Corp., Casey’s General Stores, the Iowa Greyhound Association, Microsoft Corp., StudentsFirst (the education reform effort led by former Washington, D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee), and TMS Management Group, Inc., a Florida-based consulting firm that transports non-emergency patients for Iowa’s Medicaid program.
- Gary Dickey, a lobbyist at Dickey & Campbell Law Firm, PLC, donated $250. Dickey is registered to lobby for the Iowa Biodiesel Board and the Iowa Creditors Bar Association.
- Steve Falck, a lobbyist for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, donated $500.
- John Pederson, a lobbyist for Eide & Heisinger LLC, donated $250 to Murphy’s campaign. Pederson represents the American Suntanning Association, Genesis Health System, Iowa Ethanol Producers Association, the Iowa Harness Horsemen’s Association, Kum & Go and Tyson Foods, Inc.
- James Piazza, a self-employed lobbyist, donated $500 to Murphy’s campaign. Piazza’s clients include the Heavy Highway Contractors Association, the Iowa Independent Automobile Dealers Association and two labor unions.
One contribution sure to corrupt no one: Murphy accepted $2,500 from Sister Therese Murphy—that’s Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Therese Murphy. Perhaps the vow of poverty has a loophole for campaign cash?
Murphy contributed $7,545 to his campaign—more than 10 percent of his quarterly haul of $68,070.
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