Politico | September 26, 2022

"The police report came out at perhaps the worst possible time for Mike Franken.

The Iowa Democratic Senate nominee was giving incumbent Republican Chuck Grassley his toughest challenge since the seven-term senator won his first race in 1980. Franken beat former Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) in the primary and recently outraised Grassley as a Democratic group spent against the incumbent.

Then the conservative Iowa Field Report published an April report his former campaign manager filed with Des Moines police, alleging that Franken kissed her without consent. The woman who filed the report told police that Franken has kissed other women and had what she called '1950s interactions' with them, but did not describe the behavior as sexual or aggressive.


The Iowa Field Report’s write-up of the Franken police report was authored by GOP consultant Luke Martz, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as the site’s founder and editor. 

Responding to Franken’s comments about how the police report came to light, Michaela Sundermann, a spokesperson for Grassley, said 'dismissing her allegations of assault as politically motivated is baseless and disrespectful.'

'Mike Franken is not the victim here, and he should hold himself to a higher standard as a candidate for public office,' Sundermann said.

With just seven weeks until Election Day, the allegation jolted a once-sleepy Iowa race, which is on the periphery of the Senate map as parties and super PACs make their final spending decisions for the midterms. It’s closer than expected, according to public polls, but not as close as Democrats’ other pickup opportunities in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.

In addition, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is protecting a half-dozen incumbents in battleground states. Bringing those senators back is the DSCC’s primary job and easiest path to retaining the majority — which made Franken’s job challenging even before the police report’s publication.

Being an Iowa Democrat isn’t easy to begin with these days: Democrats have lost the past four Senate races. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumerdisparaged Franken’s chances recently over dinner with colleagues, according to Punchbowl News. Schumer also left Iowa out of his $15 million allocation toward Senate races.


Maybe not. David Bergstein, a spokesperson for Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, said: 'The DSCC is not involved in this race.' The Schumer-linked Senate Majority PAC, whose affiliated Duty and Honor PAC spent roughly $250,000 attacking Grassley according to AdImpact, declined to comment."

Read the full story here.


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