October campaign finance ethics disclosure reports show an interesting pattern in Story County.
A newcomer candidate has blown all others out of the water in fundraising, bringing in even more than the county political parties.
And a Utah mobile home park company known for buying parks around the country, including Iowa, and then raising rental prices, has been funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into an Ames-based political action committee. The PAC’s lobbying effort has been to keep mobile home park resident protection laws out of the Iowa Legislature.
This year’s Legislature passed a bill that Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law that offers slight protections to mobile home park residents.
All campaign finance reports, unless otherwise noted, cover the period of July 15 to Oct. 14, filed with the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board.
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A new face brings old money
Republican Kara Warme is running for one of the two open county Supervisor seats. This is her first attempt at running for an elected seat.
Finance record reports show Warme raised $30,530 from a long list of longtime local business leaders and elected officials and their family members.
The campaign finance reporting don’t list a campaign committee chairperson for Warme. Its treasurer is Amanda McClure of Ames.
Warme’s campaign spent $20,423 during that same time period. The campaign finished the reporting cycle with $15,396 in the bank, a relative war chest compared to other campaigns in the county.
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Not only did Warme raise and spend more money than her competitors in the race, she raised more than the Story County Republican Central Committee and the Story County Democratic Central Committee combined. Business leaders found on Warme’s list of contributors include Laurie Henry ($250), owner of Longview Farms. Henry and her husband, Steve, recently expanded their holdings with son Scott to build a housing development in Nevada. The city voted this summer to commit $1.5 million to the Henrys' housing project.
Other business and community leaders donating to Warme’s campaign:
- Bruce Rastetter, $5,000, former president of the Iowa Board of Regents and creator of Hawkeye Energy Holdings, which entered bankruptcy filing in 2009
- Michael Flummerfelt, $500, owner of Flummerfelt Manufactured Homes. The company owns mobile home parks in central Iowa including Story County
- Dean Hunziker, $100, of Hunziker and Associates
- Chris Hunziker, $100
- Kevin Kinzler, $100, of Kinzler Construction Services
- Realtor Paul Livingston, $200
- John Mullenbach, $100, Mullenbach Construction and Painting
- Realtor Chuck Winkleblack, $100, who has been instrumental in The Linc multimillion-dollar development in downtown Ames
- Steve Burgason, $200, owner of Burgies
- Bill and Debra Fennelly, $150. Bill Fennelly is the Iowa State University women's basketball coach
Also among her contributors during the past four months:
- Nevada Mayor Brett Barker, $50
- Tara Gartin, wife of Ames City Councilmember Tim Gartin, donated $700 in-kind for professional design services
- Rachel Haila, daughter-in-law of Ames Mayor John Haila, donated $1,500 in-kind for use of billboard advertising
Story County incumbent Supervisor fundraising lags
Former Iowa state Rep. Lisa Heddens, Democrat, is running for reelection for her Story County Supervisor seat. In recent reports, Heddens raised $3,690. Among her donors were Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald ($100) and Supervisor Latifah Faisal ($50.)
During that same time, Heddens spent $8,347 on her reelection campaign.
The campaign finished the reporting cycle with $6,300 in the bank. Campaign finance reports do not list a committee chairperson. Constance Toresdahl of Ames is listed as treasurer.
Supervisor Linda Murken, Democrat, raised $5,240 during the four-month reporting cycle. She also received donations from fellow Supervisor Faisal ($50) and Fitzgerald ($100.) Story County Sheriff's Capt. Nicholas Lennie also donated $150 to Murken’s campaign.
The Murken campaign spent $11,829 during the reporting period.
The campaign ended the reporting cycle with $7,192 in the bank. Linda Murken is listed as the campaign committee chairperson.
Another new face in the Supervisor’s race, James Wright Jr., Republican, raised $17,025 in the past four months.
Where Heddens and Murken raised money from dozens of donors with few donations over $100, Wright raised his money from fewer donors, but from deeper pockets. Almost all of his donors gave more than $100 each, with several giving $1,000, $4,500 or $5,000.
Wright spent $14,198 on his campaign and ended the cycle with $8,744 in the bank. Sean McGuire of Colo is listed as Wright’s campaign chairperson.
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Story County political parties end reporting period within reach of each other
The Story County Republican Central Committee, chaired by Nevada Mayor Brett Barker, raised $7,383 in the reporting period. Most of that was from tickets sold for the committee’s chili supper. Local candidates who bought tickets to the event included Barker ($60), James Wright Jr. ($30), David Deyoe ($60) and Niko Pilcher ($70.)
Mike Flummerfelt, owner of Flummerfelt Homes and chairperson of the Manufactured Housing PAC based in Ames, spent $485 on tickets to the event.
The Chitty for County Supervisor campaign, a reporting entity for former Story County Supervisor Marty Chitty, donated $2,000 to the county Republican central committee to be distributed among two Supervisor candidates. The central committee gave $2,500 to the Wright campaign and $1,000 to the Warme campaign.
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The central committee spent $13,943 during the reporting period and finished the cycle with $14,809 in the bank.
The Story County Democratic Central Committee, chaired by Madalyn Anderson of Ames, raised $6,177. Local candidates who donated to the committee were Ross Wilburn ($250), Faisel ($75) and Herman Quirmbach ($150.)
The committee spent $17,703 and finished the cycle with $12,558 in the bank.
Other contested county race shows lackluster fundraising
Story County Attorney Timothy Meals, Democrat, who is married to county Supervisor Latifah Faisal, raised $945 during the past four months and spent $2,795.
Contributors included former county attorney Mary Richards ($25), who is also the candidate campaign committee chairperson. Also, Story County Sheriff's Capt. Nicholas Lennie donated $150.
Story County Attorney candidate and current Huxley council member Niko Pilcher, Republican, raised $2,118. Most of that came from T-shirt sales ($1,569) and from the Story County Republican Central Committee ($500.) The campaign also received a $49 contribution from Nevada Mayor and Story County Republican Central Committee Chairperson Brett Barker.
The campaign spent $2,202. The campaign’s chairperson isn’t listed on reports. The treasurer is Pilcher’s wife, Jenna.
Uncontested county races show almost no fundraising activities
Story County Recorder Stacie Herridge, Republican, who is running uncontested, raised no funds during the reporting period and spent $127 on parade candy. Her campaign finished the reporting period with $905 on hand. The campaign treasurer and chairperson are Herridge’s husband, Nick.
Story County Treasurer Ted Rasmusson, Democrat, who is running uncontested, raised no funds and spent nothing during the reporting period. His campaign ended the period with $3,235 in the bank. Rasmusson’s wife, Amanda, serves as the committee chairperson.
Out-of-state money filters into Ames-based PAC
Manufactured Housing PAC, based in Ames, raised $65,950 and spent $78,500. Michael Flummerfelt of Ames is listed as the chairperson of the committee.
Flummerfelt has owned mobile home parks in central Iowa for decades. In 1985, he started Flummerfelt Homes and Storage in Nevada and Des Moines.
Although Manufactured Housing PAC is listed as nonpartisan, all of the expenditures for the PAC went to Republican candidates.
The bulk of the fundraising came from Havenpark of Orem, Utah ($50,000.) Havenpark has earned a reputation across the country for buying mobile home parks and sharply increasing rents on residents.
Havenpark, and other mobile home park owners and manufacturers from around the state and the country, have been funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into Flummerfelt’s PAC for several years with the intention of preventing legislation to protect mobile home park residents from management abuse.
But House File 2562 was supported by Iowa legislative Republican leaders this year. The governor signed it into law without comment.
Flummerfelt’s PAC gave its largest campaign donations to Reynolds; Iowa Sen. Jack Whitver, who serves as the Senate Majority Leader; and Iowa Rep. Pat Grassley, who serves as Speaker of the Iowa House. Each received $10,000 from the Flummerfelt PAC.
Other Republicans to receive support from the PAC were Iowa Sen. Amy Sinclair, who also serves as Majority Whip ($7,500); Rep. Bobby Kaufmann ($5,000); Rep. Matt Windschitl, who serves as Majority Leader of the Iowa House ($3,000); and Sen. Dan Dawson ($3,000).
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Final campaign finance reports due just days before election
Election day is Tuesday. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Final campaign finance reports are due to the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board on Friday.
Teresa Kay Albertson covers politics, crime, courts and local government in Ames and central Iowa for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register. Reach her on Twitter @TeresaAlberts11 and at email@example.com, 515-419-6098.