Steyer aide offered donations for local politicians to endorse him: report

Steyer aide offered donations for local politicians to endorse him: report
© Greg Nash

An aide to billionaire 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerSaagar Enjeti: Bloomberg 2020 bid would 'all but ensure a Bernie Sanders victory' Steyer challenges Bloomberg to support wealth tax before entering Democratic primary Democratic strategist 'remarkably unimpressed' by potential Bloomberg 2020 bid MORE has offered campaign donations to numerous Iowa politicians in exchange for their endorsements, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported Thursday that former Iowa state House Speaker Pat Murphy (D), currently a top adviser on Steyer's 2020 campaign, made the offers, which would not be illegal unless the potential contributions went unreported.

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However, they could add to the criticism Steyer has already faced from other candidates in the 2020 field that he is using his vast personal wealth to buy his way into the pack of Democratic candidates.

No evidence suggests that any politicians took Murphy's offer, according to the AP.

A spokesman for Steyer's campaign told the AP that Murphy was not authorized to make the offers and that campaign leadership was unaware he had done so until the news service alerted them to Murphy's efforts.

“Tom has not made any individual contributions to candidates in Iowa this year, and he will not be making any contributions. The endorsements he receives are earned because of Tom’s campaign message, his decade-long work taking on big corporations who put profits over people, and his work registering and organizing voters across the country to support progressive causes. Our campaign policy is clear that we will not engage in this kind of activity, and anyone who does is not speaking for the campaign or does not know our policy," a campaign spokesperson told The Hill on Thursday.

“Tom and his wife Kat Taylor have a long history of supporting progressive causes and candidates, which have helped Democrats in Iowa and across the country. Their work helped Democrats take back the U.S. House of Representatives last year and fueled more Democratic victories this week, including in Virginia," added the spokesperson.

Murphy said in his own statement to The Hill that he apologized for making officials, including his former colleagues, "uncomfortable" and blamed the issue on a "miscommunication."

"As a former legislator, I know how tricky the endorsement process can be for folks in Iowa. It was never my intention to make my former colleagues uncomfortable, and I apologize for any miscommunication on my part," Murphy said.

"I joined the campaign because I believe Tom is the best candidate to take on Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE and that he shares Iowa’s values. I know that Tom’s message will resonate with leaders across the state and that any endorsements will come from the merit of his message," he added.

One former Democratic state senator, Tom Courtney, told the AP that Murphy's offer to facilitate a donation to his campaign for election in his old district “left a bad taste in my mouth."

Another Iowa official told the AP that Murphy indicated to her that other candidates had accepted his offer in the past.

“It was presented more as, he has provided financial support to other downballot candidates who’ve endorsed him, and could do the same for you,”  state Rep. Karin Derry (D) told the news service.

Steyer is endorsed by a handful of local politicians in early primary states, though no national-level lawmakers have yet endorsed the billionaire's bid for the Democratic nomination.