Democrat presidential candidate Tom Steyer’s campaign has been accused of trying to bribe politicians in Iowa to win endorsements.
The alleged bribes were being offered by Steyer’s Iowa campaign manager Pat Murphy, who previously served as state House speaker. While it is not technically illegal to offer cash in return for endorsements, it would violate campaign finance laws if left undisclosed.
What may be even worse for the Tom Steyer campaign, however, is the fact that seemingly no politicians accepted the payoffs. The money offered would have come out of the Tom Steyer for President campaign, much of which he donated to himself, and go into the campaign fund of the recipient candidate.
Former Democratic state senator from southeastern Iowa Tom Courtney told the Associated Press the offer to buy his support “left a bad taste in my mouth”. Courtney is currently rerunning for his old seat.
Courtney recalls the conversation with Murphy as:
Murphy: “Tom, I know you’re running for Senate. I’m working for Tom Steyer. Now you know how this works. … He said, ‘You help them, and they’ll help you.'”
Courtney: “I said, ‘It wouldn’t matter if you’re talking monetary, there’s no amount’. I don’t do that kind of thing.”
Iowa state Rep. Karin Derry said that, while Murphy didn’t offer an exact amount, he made it clear that her campaign would be funded if she endorsed Tom Steyer for President.
“It was presented more as, he has provided financial support to other down-ballot candidates who’ve endorsed him, and could do the same for you.”
Steyer’s Iowa campaign manager Pat Murphy insisted the concern over his offer to buy support was the result of a simple “miscommunication”.
Tom Steyer was asked about the AP report during a campaign stop in South Carolina on Thursday where he told the press, “We haven’t given any money to anyone in Iowa, nor are we planning to. There’s no way we would ever do that.”
Since entering the race in July, only a single Iowa politician has endorsed Tom Steyer, Rep. Roger Thomas, in October. Since Thomas’s endorsement came after the end of Q3 filing, it is unclear if he received any financial support from the Steyer campaign.
RealClear Politics has Tom Steyer currently polling at 0.9% nationally and at 2.8% in Iowa.