Joni Ernst

The Big Money 20 are incumbents who represent the worst of Washington’s rigged system. They do the bidding of special interests like drug companies, Big Oil, Wall Street, and others with deep pockets while also voting to stack the deck in their favor – at the expense of the American people.

Joni Ernst Owes Her Career To The Koch Brothers And Dark Money Outside Groups

  • Ernst owes her career to the Koch Brothers, their network and their millions of dollars. The Kochs brought her into the fold when she was still just an unknown state legislator, and used their vast and secretive network to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars shepherding her through a competitive primary.
  • Just two weeks after her primary victory, Ernst gave credit where credit was due, telling big donors at a Koch summit that “this wonderful network” had “really started my trajectory.”
  • In all, Koch-affiliated groups spent nearly $5 million supporting Ernst in her 2014 campaign.
  • Outside of just the Kochs, Ernst has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the post-Citizens United, unlimited secret money landscape. The Iowa Senate race saw the third highest amount of outside spending in the country during the 2014 cycle, and $30 million of that went to helping Ernst. Dark money groups spent over $6.7 million helping Ernst, with one of the biggest and most insidious, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spending a massive $3.1 million on her behalf.

Ernst Has Been Working For Her Big Money Donors In Congress, Not Iowans

  • Once in Congress, Ernst went right to work for her big special interest donors. Ernst has taken thousands of dollars from the pharma and health insurance industries, and voted to give them massive, multi-billion dollar tax breaks while gutting protections for preexisting conditions, increasing premiums, and allowing insurers to charge older adults five times as much as younger people.
  • Ernst supported the Republican tax plan — a massive giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, including slashing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% — a move that surely pleased the corporate PACs that have given Ernst nearly $1 million. Meanwhile, not only would the middle class see their taxes increase, it’s also likely the bill would threaten massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare — as a result of $1.9 trillion it would add to the deficit.
  • Ernst is working for her big Wall Street donors in Congress, not Iowans. She has taken nearly $558,000 from the financial industry and cosponsored a bill that would require regulators to “limit any regulatory actions so as to limit burdens on the institutions involved” — with no thought about justice for consumers. Ernst voted to make it harder for people to sue when their banks deceive them, and cosponsored a bill that would subject the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the whims of whatever party controlled Congress.

The only way to stop this cycle of pay-to-play politics is to defeat the politicians who are bought by the special interests and rig the system in their favor. End Citizens United has made the Big Money 20 a priority for its $35 million campaign to throw these incumbents out of office and elect reformers who will put focus on all of us, not those who write the biggest checks.

For the full list of Big Money 20 targets, click here.