New Radio Ad Asks Where Joni Ernstís Loyalties Lie:  Iowa Jobs—or Big Oil Profits

Before ExxonMobil Toasts Joni Ernst at a Washington Fundraiser This Week, New Radio Ad Asks Where Ernst’s Loyalties Lie:
With Renewable Fuels and Iowa Jobs -- or Big Oil’s Bottom Line?

*Click Here to Listen to ‘Exxon Ernst’

Washington DC – Big Oil has gone hog wild for Joni Ernst. First came the news last week that the family of billionaire oil baron Koch brothers had maxed out their contributions to the Iowa Republican’s U.S. Senate campaign, on top of the over $20,000 the Koch donor network has so far funneled to her campaign coffers. Now comes the revelation that the ExxonMobil PAC is toasting Ernst at a $1,000 a plate Washington D.C. on Wednesday.  In response, pro-ethanol group Americans United for Change is hitting the radio waves this week in Des Moines calling on Ernst to choose a side: Iowa jobs, or Big Oil profits. But, it seems Ernst leans toward the latter. When pressed to take a firm stand on the Renewable Fuel Standard, Ernst stresses she’s “philosophically opposed” to farm subsidies and that she “want[s] people to choose products that work for them and not have them mandated by the United States government.”   Not exactly the ringing endorsement for ethanol that Iowa rural communities may be hoping to hear. See script below for “Exxon Ernst”, airing this week in Des Moines on WHO-AM. Listen here:

Jeremy Funk, Comm. Dir., Americans United for Change, which recently ran full page ads in Iowa urging Ernst to clarify her muddy RFS position: “There’s easy choices and there’s hard choices.  For someone hoping to represent a state that leads the nation in renewable fuels production, you might think that unconditional support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and 73,000 Iowa jobs would be a no-brainer.  But for some reason, it’s a hard choice for Joni Ernst. Big Oil has taken notice of Ernst’s begrudging support for the RFS while remaining ‘philosophically opposed’ to it.  What is a telling choice is for Ernst to welcome Big Oil’s support with open arms at a decadent Washington fundraiser this week. Big Oil lobbyists would love nothing more than to be able to say, “You see, even a Senator from Iowa thinks the RFS is unnecessary.”  Big Oil would love to be able to use Ernst as a poster child in their multi-million smear campaign to drive ethanol out of business.  They hate that consumers have a cheaper and cleaner option at the pump thanks to Iowa renewable fuels.  They hate that every gallon sold of ethanol produced domestically means one less gallon sold of gas made from dirty crude oil from unstable regions like Iraq.   You can tell a lot about how a politician might vote by the friends they keep. And it seems the more money Joni Ernst’s campaign rakes in oil interests like ExxonMobil or the oil baron Koch Brothers, the more reluctant her support for renewable fuels becomes.  Ernst needs to get her priorities straight: choosing between Iowa’s economy and the special interests shouldn’t be a choice at all.” 


“Oily Palms”  
Radio  (:60)
Americans United For Change
Ad Back-Up



Renewable fuels are like rocket fuel for Iowa’s economy -- supporting 73,000 Iowa jobs and saving families hundreds of dollars at the pump. 



  • Des Moines Register, April 23, 2014: ‘Study: Renewable fuels support nearly 73,400 Iowa jobs’ : “Production of renewable fuels in Iowa supports nearly 73,400 jobs and $5 billion in wages annually, a new industry study shows. Fuels America, a coalition of agribusiness groups and companies, says the ethanol and biodiesel industry nationally supports 852,056 jobs and generates $46.2 billion in wages annually.”

  • RFA: “The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) released on May 15 [2012] a study by economists at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University examining the impact  of increased ethanol consumption on wholesale gasoline prices.” Among the key findings: “In 2011, ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by $1.09 per gallon nationally; … Ethanol reduced the average American household’s spending on gasoline by more than $1,200 last year, based on average gasoline consumption data.”

  • Iowa Renewable Fuels Association: “[E]thanol and biodiesel: Account for more than $5.5 billion, or 4% of Iowa GDP; Generate $4 billion of income for Iowa households.”

And now more than ever, Iowa needs a strong and dependable voice for ethanol in Washington. Big Oil is spending millions of dollars to put Iowa ethanol out of business and leave us more dependent on their foreign oil.


The Iowa chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a dark money front group of the billionaire oil baron Koch Brothers, says ethanol industry “should stand on their own two feet” and the RFS is “Bad For All Other Businesses And American Consumers” :

  • Forbes, 3/04/2013 : “In the oil and gas industry the only bigger fortune than [Harold] Hamm’s is that of the Koch Brothers. But although Charles and David Koch are tied for 6th in the world, with fortunes of $34 billion each, the bulk of their fortunes are not in the operation of oil and gas fields, but in massive refineries, pipelines and chemicals plants.”

  • Think Progress, November 14, 2013: "Americans for Prosperity, the tax-exempt conservative political organization created by oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, spent $122 million in 2012 — more than it spent in all previous years combined.”

  • Mark Lucas, Iowa State Director for Americans for Prosperity, in a July 7 2013 op-ed called ‘Ethanol lobby should stand on its own feet’, wrote: “The (EPA) is now increasing the mandate, encouraging producers to increase its blending of ethanol to 15 percent per gallon through its E15 program. While this federal encouragement may boost the ethanol lobby’s profits, it’s bad for all other businesses and American consumers. [The Gazette, July 7, 2013]

Funny thing is, Joni Ernst hasn’t said much at all about Big Oil’s greedy attacks on ethanol and Iowa jobs. 

Worse, Ernst says she’s “philosophically opposed” to farm policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard.


  • In Response to Question About What the RFS Has Meant, Ernst responded “We Want People To Choose The Products That Work For Them And Not Have Them Mandated By The United States Government.”  : During a December 2013 Republican candidate forum, GOP Senate candidates were asked by an audience member, “The EPA has proposed changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014. As a candidate I would like your opinion on what the Renewable Fuel Standard has meant to [inaudible], but then also as a Senator, what you see your role is and what you believe you could do to make a difference on the Renewable Fuel Standard.” In response, Joni Ernst said: “There’s a number of things, a number of industries, out there that we need to look at, but I agree that it does have to be free market driven. I think that that is very important also, and we will get to that point someday and I’m certain of it. We want people to choose products that work for them and not have them mandated by the United States government, and we are well on our way.” [Republican Jewish Coalition Forum, 12/16/13]

  • Ernst: “Philosophically I’m Opposed” to Energy Subsidies. In March 2014, WHO-TV reported Dan Winters asked Ernst for her position on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Ernst responded, "Well I stand behind the Renewable Fuel Standard and I've never wavered on that. Philosophically I'm opposed to subsidies but I'm not going to do something that puts Iowa at risk and so keeping our renewable feel standards where they are, I think, is very important." [WHO-TV, 4/7/14]

  • Ernst Believes All Energy Subsidies Should Be Ended "Across The Board." In a December 2013 op-ed published in the Sioux City Journal, former Iowa Republican State Senator, Christopher Rants, wrote "I contacted the campaigns of Young, Ernst and Whitaker over Christmas and asked a simple question: 'Does your candidate support or oppose the RFS?'" The Ernst campaign responded to The Journal by saying Ernst "believes if we were to end these subsidies, it would have to be done across the board, for every sector at the exact same time - meaning until and unless that day comes, Joni will passionately stand in defense of RFS." [Sioux City Journal, op-ed, 12/29/13]


It’s no wonder ExxonMobil’s army of lobbyists are hosting a ritzy Washington DC fundraiser for Ernst this week.

Big Oil thinks Joni Ernst is on their side – and she sure isn’t refusing their money.   



  • VIEW PAC/ExxonMobil PAC invitation to fundraising reception for Joni Ernst on July 30, 2014

  • Ernst Campaign Has So Far Taken Over $20,000 From Koch Brothers’ Donor Network. According to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, “But within the out-of-state donors, Ernst has attracted attention from some high-profile activists. Following Ernst’s attendance at a seminar put on by Charles and David Koch last year, she has attracted donors affiliated with the Koch brothers’ network of political connections. Ernst received a scant $4,500 — out of $202,744 raised — from donors with affiliations with the right-leaning libertarian Koch brothers during the most recent filing. But she has previously gotten more than $20,000 from influential figures with ties to a meeting put on by the brothers.” [Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, 2/23/14]

  • The Hill, July 17, 2014: ‘Kochs max out for Iowa Republican’ : “Conservative billionaire Charles Koch and his family have maxed out to Iowa state Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R), a sign of the Koch brothers' particular interest in helping her campaign. Koch, his wife, his son and daughter-in-law each gave the legal maximum contribution of $2,600 to Ernst in late June, according to newly filed documents with the Federal Election Commission. Koch Industries also made a $5,000 contribution to her campaign. She's just the second candidate all four Kochs have maxed out to this year. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is the other. The donations aren't a shock. Americans for Prosperity, the big-spending conservative group partly bankrolled by Charles and his brother David, has already been on the air in Iowa pounding Ernst's opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa).”

  • Ernst Thanked Americans For Prosperity For Running Anti-Braley Ads. According to a Facebook post by state Sen. Joni Ernst, Ernst said, “Thankful AFP – Iowa is highlighting Bruce #BraleysObamacare with a new television ad! Time for Braley to own up to the broken promises he made to Iowans. #IASEN” [Joni Ernst – Facebook, 1/15/14]

Call Joni Ernst at (515) 281-3371– tell Joni her Big Oil friends are no friends to Iowa farmers and our rural economy. Tell her to side with Iowa renewable fuels, not Big Oil’s bottom line.
Paid for by Americans United for Change.