Senate Republicans Dig In On Iowa House Race, Pressuring Companies With False Equivalency

UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, speaks with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as they leave the Senate floor on the way to the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.... UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, speaks with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as they leave the Senate floor on the way to the Senate Republicans' policy lunch on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) MORE LESS
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March 26, 2021 11:16 a.m.

Senate Republicans have become increasingly interested in the goings on in the other chamber: namely, the House committee adjudicating the disputed election in Iowa’s second district.

Democrat Rita Hart, who lost the November election by just six votes, filed a claim under the Federal Contested Elections Act which brought it before the House Administration Committee. She contends that there are 22 wrongly rejected ballots that would give her the victory.

Republican senators sent a letter to “all companies who support free and fair elections” pushing them to denounce and boycott donations to Democrats supporting the Iowa 2 investigation like they did with Republicans who voted against certifying the Electoral College votes.

“We are asking you to apply the same standard to this attempt to overturn an election that you applied to the Republicans who objected to certain states’ electoral votes, and publicly condemn the actions of Democrats who are seeking to overturn the state-certified election of Representative Miller-Meeks,” they wrote.

“If you decide to not speak out about this brazen attempt to steal an election,” they added ominously, “some may question the sincerity of your earlier statements and draw the conclusion that your actions were partisan instead of principled.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

Republicans of both chambers have fully dug in to the disputed election as an example of rank Democratic hypocrisy and an attempt to steal back a seat. That narrative serves the dual purpose of both rewriting history around the unprecedented attempts to overthrow the 2020 election, and making Democrats too uncomfortable to ultimately seat Hart no matter what the investigation shows. 

So far, lawyers for both Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks have filed initial briefs to answer committee Chair Zoe Lofgren’s (D-CA) questions. Miller-Meeks’ team declined to answer most of them, taking umbrage at Lofgren’s request to debate on the merits before the discovery phase and at having to deal with the case at all, given that Hart did not contest the election in court first. There is no legal requirement that she do so — Hart has said there wasn’t time before state deadlines — though Republicans have clung to it as proof that she was seeking out a friendlier adjudicator.

Lofgren has ordered that both sides file replies to the other party’s initial briefs on Monday. 

Lofgren this week also sent out a statement urging Republicans to stop the “coordinated public campaign” to smear the process, calling out House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) particularly, as he has adjudicated a contested election on the committee before and knows that the process is working normally.

Pelosi echoed Lofgren’s statements when asked by a reporter Thursday about the squeamishness the Republican argument is causing in some of her moderate members, countering that some other members didn’t want her to provisionally seat Miller-Meeks at the start of term. 

“Now, if I wanted to be unfair, I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa. Because that was my right on the opening day,” she said. “I would have just said, ‘You’re not seated.’ And that would have been my right as Speaker to do. But we didn’t want to do that. We just said, ‘Let’s just go through this process.’”

Republicans, though, are only gaining steam on the issue, buoyed by a fixation within the rightwing media ecosystem. 

McCarthy is reportedly packing his bags to travel to Iowa next week for a day of events with Miller-Meeks.

Read the letter here:

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