Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann on Thursday slammed Democrat Iowa state Sen. Liz Mathis, who is running against Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA), saying she has “pretty glaring transparency issues” only hours after she entered the race.
Kaufmann, speaking to reporters, outlined the allegations against Mathis when she raised support for a bill from her fellow state senators in 2016. A report from Fox News came out saying she “secure[d] up to $2.5 million in sales tax rebates for Prospect Meadows, an Iowa-based nonprofit that paid her husband’s marketing firm tens of thousands of dollars for consulting services.”
The report Kaufmann spoke about also mentioned that the marketing firm that Mathis’s husband, Mark Mathis, cofounded called ME&V, “received $94,298 in tax year 2012 and $54,588 in tax year 2013 from Prospect Meadows for ‘production of promotion materials and consulting.'”
The report noted that “Mathis lists herself as the ‘co-owner’ of ME&V in 2012 and labels it as a ‘family owned business‘ in 2013. On LinkedIn, she calls herself a ‘Family Owner’ of the AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.”
Kaufmann told reporters that Mathis’s plan, by her own admission, had “been put in motion and it was three years in the making.” The party chair believes this “This does not pass the smell test.”
Regarding transparency, Kaufmann said this “is an utter failure” on Mathis’s part.”I can only imagine if this set of statistics and facts were set up for a Republican that was running for a federal office, [the Republicans] would hear the outcry echoing in my ears,” which is why he believes that “Republicans should all be asking questions about Mathis’s double-dipping.”
The Fox News report added:
In 2014, ME&V merged with another advertising agency to become AMPERAGE, which continued to do marketing and fundraising work on behalf of Prospect Meadows that year and in 2015. In March 2015, AMPERAGE worked as a “campaign counsel” for their private fundraising campaign and created a promotional fundraising video for Prospect Meadows.
Mathis touted Prospect Meadows multiple times on her official state senator Facebook profile. In December 2015, Mathis posted, “I asked Senators Joe Bolkcom and Bill Dotzler to meet with Prospect Meadows supporters today” and included a picture of her with the two state senators. In February 2016, Mathis posted that she was “proud” to be one of the supporters on the subcommittee that advanced the bill in the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
In April 2016, she posted two more times about Prospect Meadows, encouraging her Facebook followers to “call Iowa House members” to “let them know Prospect Meadows is a great project for our region and the state.” A few days later she thanked her House and Senate colleagues for “putting the finishing touches on Prospect Meadows,” adding this process was “three years in the making.”
In response to Fox News, the campaign for Mathis said, “There is no conflict of interest and neither ME&V nor Amperage benefited from a state tax credit awarded to this non-profit complex.” However, they noted to the news organization that Prospect Meadows was a client of the business.
The Mathis campaign even tried roping Hinson into the allegation, saying, “Prospect Meadows is one of the best things to happen to the Linn County community. …Thousands of Iowans, including Ashley Hinson, have visited the complex. It’s benefited kids with disabilities and improved children’s lives.”