Report: Sen. Harkin Refused To Give Funds To Help Rep. Braley — Twice

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, joins Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, and other senators at a "Back Off Social Security" rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 28, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Outgoing Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) refused to move any of the $2.4 million in his campaign account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to help Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), who’s running to succeed Harkin, according to Politico.

Braley is running in a tight race against state Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for Harkin’s U.S. Senate seat, and the outcome could determine which party controls the chamber.

Harkin’s refusal comes despite personal appeals from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Reid has reportedly reached out to Harkin at least twice. First in April
in a face-to-face with the senator from Iowa and then late last summer
when he was with Harkin and DSCC Chairman Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).
Both times Harkin refused.

Instead, Politico reported, Harkin will use the money to make a charitable donation to The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines.

Harkin had originally planned to donate his papers to the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at Iowa State University, where Harkin attended. But after questions were raised about fundraising and ethics rules, he moved to give to Drake University instead.

The Politico report underscores the seriousness Democrats are taking Ernst’s candidacy and the threat she poses to a seat that, at the beginning of the 2014 midterm cycle, was seen as safely Democratic.

The Iowa Democratic Party pushed back on the Politico story with a statement from Iowa Democratic Party chairman Scott Brennan:

Senator Tom Harkin has been one of the strongest and loudest champions of the Iowa Democratic Party, and this year is no different. From headlining our Hall of Fame Dinner, allowing us to partner with him on the Harkin Steak Fry, traveling to Democratic events all around the state, and promoting our great Democratic ticket, Tom Harkin’s efforts have helped to ensure our victories this fall. All Democrats are thankful for his service and support, and I am grateful that he will continue to support our efforts this year, and in the coming years, to elect generations of progressive leaders in Iowa.

The TPM Polltracker average gives Ernst a 3.5 point lead over Braley.

This story was updated.

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