Additional reading: Our one pager on the Iowa Senate election.
Every month, Joni Ernst bestows “Joni’s Squeal Award” to a “Washington expense, program or concept that has proven to be wasteful and must be cut.” But for someone who campaigned on standing up to political corruption and reckless spending, Ernst frequently displays a complete absence of backbone.
It turns out that her promise to “make ‘em squeal” holds about as much water as President Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp.” Over the course of the last few years, Ernst has been a reliable lackey for President Trump, voting alongside him 90.9% of the time. She confirmed one after another disastrous cabinet appointee, including David Shulkin, Ryan Zinke, and Scott Pruitt, all of whom resigned in disgrace amid investigations into their misuse of power and taxpayer money. At every opportunity, Senator Ernst has turned away from her promise to stand up to corruption in Washington.
While hers was a dubious promise from the beginning – her political career was launched by hundreds of thousands of the Koch brothers’ dollars – Ernst hasn’t even kept up the façade of holding corrupt politicians to account. Even staunch conservatives are disgusted with her hand-waving.
She couldn’t even bring herself to condemn the blatant illegality of Trump’s attempts to withhold federal aid in order to coerce the Ukrainian government into influencing our elections, finally venturing to say he handled it “maybe in the wrong manner,” but that it was a “moot” point because President Trump eventually released the funds. That’s like saying, “Hey, I know I tried to blackmail you, but at least I gave it up when everyone found out.”
She continues to cower before President Trump. Even as other Republican and military leaders speak out, Lt. Col. Ernst has been all but silent on Trump’s gross misuse of the military to clear peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas—all for a photo-op. She called it “leading;” we call it abuse: of both the right to peaceful assembly, and of the servicepersons who swore to protect our country.
But perhaps must despicable of all is Senator Ernst’s involvement in the holdup of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Herself an outspoken survivor of sexual violence, Senator Ernst is so beholden to the NRA that she blocked the re-authorization of VAWA, depriving thousands of vulnerable women of support and resources that are increasingly essential as shelter-in-place orders confine women with their abusers, all because the NRA objects to a provision which would prohibit abusive ex-boyfriends from buying guns. Incidentally, the NRA has given Senator Ernst an A rating for her staunch support.
Despite 2.2 million cases and nearly 160,000 deaths and counting, Ernst still thinks that President Trump is handling the coronavirus pandemic “quite well” – well enough to help carry her to a second term. But the most recent polls show that she and her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, are statistically tied. It’ll take wide grassroots organizing to make the change, but we’re excited to show Senator Ernst that it takes real backbone to earn the support of Iowans.