Democrats and Republicans squared off in the Iowa House today over public financing of campaigns, as a GOP bill was approved to eliminate a limited form of the practice in Iowa.
On a party line vote, the House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill to get rid of the checkoff on Iowa income tax forms that allows a contribution to the Republican or Democratic party or to a campaign fund that is then distributed to the major parties.
The bill’s backer says political donations don’t belong on tax forms.
“I would ask anyone for a rationale as to why government should be involved in helping political parties raise funds,” said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton). “They can do that on their own.”
Last year the tax checkoff raised nearly $44,000 for Democrats and close to $29,000 for Republicans.
Democrats met in closed session before emerging to vote as a block against the bill.
“You know there's talk about public finance of campaigns and elections because of all the money that's been put into the election process,” said Rep. John Forbes (D-Urbandale.) “This bill does give Iowans, especially low-income Iowans, who don't participate in the process of donating to campaigns the opportunity to do that.”
“What about folks who are Independents, Libertarians, Green Party?” countered Kaufmann.
Kaufmann says he backs the bill, even though he is the son of Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann.
“He can raise his own money,” Kaufmann added.
At a hearing on the bill, a representative of the Iowa Department of Revenue said the change would simplify the tax form.
The bill now goes to the full House for debate.