Tom Harkin hangs onto $2.4M while Braley locked in tight race for Iowa

Sen. Tom Harkin is reportedly handing off $2.4 million to Drake University, despite appeals from the DSCC to boost the campaign of Democrat Bruce Braley.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  Oct. 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM
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DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin supports Bruce Braley's campaign to re-elect him -- just not enough to give the candidate a critical infusion of funds from his own war chest.

Harkin, D-Iowa, has refused to transfer the $2.4 million left in his campaign account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to support Braley, a Democratic congressman, despite direct appeals from top party members.

Democrats' control over the Senate will hinge on just a handful of undecided races, including Iowa. The DSCC has already poured $6.6 million into the race, helping make the race the sixth most expensive this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But while Democrats have out-fundraised Republicans nationally, in the past month, the GOP totals have begun to catch up. In Iowa, Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst hauled in $4.5 million in the third quarter, nearly double Braley's $2.8 million.

According to a Politico report, Harkin has defied multiple requests from the DSCC, including a direct appeal from Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to pass of the $2.4 million that could give Braley an edge heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

Instead, the funds are headed as a charitable contribution to the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines, where the longtime senator will donate his official papers.

Harkin has reportedly lamented the ban on earmarks that has prevented him from steering public funds toward the university.

A spokeswoman for Harkin's office denied the senator was leaving Braley out in the cold.

"Anyone paying attention to the Senate race in Iowa knows that few people have worked harder or done more to help elect Congressman Braley than Tom Harkin," said Susannah Cernojevich.

She said Harkin made a $10,000 donation to the candidate from his leadership PAC, and has attended and headlined dozens of events for Braley and other Iowa Democrats.

That includes Tuesday, when Harkin sat down with 35 students at Iowa State University.

"I've watched him work in Congress," Harkin said of his would-be successor. "He is a good person, got a good heart, good soul. He just has a care and compassion for people."

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