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Liz Mathis, an Iowa state senator and a top House Democratic candidate backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has used her state government position to help multiple clients of a marketing firm that her husband co-owned up until December 2021, months after she announced she was running for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mathis claimed for a decade to co-own AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising, which she called a “family business,” but the company disputed the state senator’s claim that she was ever a co-owner or owner of the “family business” in an email to Fox News Digital earlier this month. However, Mathis’ husband has been a co-owner of AMPERAGE since it formed from a 2014 merger, and he was the co-founder of ME&V, one of the firms in the merger dating back to 1996.
As a state senator, Mathis has been involved with several clients of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising and ME&V, including Connect CR, Mercy Medical Center, and Prospect Meadows.
In 2019, Mathis met with the city leadership of Cedar Rapids, Iowa to discuss “how the state can help partner on local projects” singling out Connect CR, a project aimed at revitalizing “the urban Cedar Lake and build a pedestrian/trail bridge over the Cedar River.”
IOWA DEM CLAIMED FOR A DECADE TO CO-OWN A ‘FAMILY BUSINESS,’ BUT THE BIZ SAYS OTHERWISE
Between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, Connect CR paid AMPERAGE a total $159,820 for production support and fundraising counsel to meet their $7 million goal, which Connect CR surpassed.
A spokesperson for Connect CR told Fox News Digital that none of the money from Connect CR to AMPERAGE came from state funds and claimed the project’s connection to Mathis did not influence the direction of the funds.
The project provided a timeline of its work with AMPERAGE and said “Ms Mathis was never involved in any of Connect CR’s conversations or dealings with AMPERAGE or in our efforts with AMPERAGE to raise private funds.”
“Furthermore, the decision to seek state (public) funds was made independently from AMPERAGE,” the spokesperson said. “They were not involved or counseled in that grant application or the grant interview process. By that point in time, their work with ConnectCR was done, since they were only contracted to help with private donor fundraising.”
Mathis’s campaign manager Anna Brichacek told Fox News Digital that Mathis will “never apologize for fighting for local projects such as Connect CR, which sought to improve Cedar Rapids’ parks and outdoor space to make our city an even better place to live.”
“This is nothing but a desperate partisan attack by Ashley Hinson’s team attempting to mislead Iowa voters about Senator Mathis’ record and deflect from Hinson’s recent admission that she is part of secret talks with Washington Republicans considering cuts to Social Security,” Brichacek continued.
The Mathis campaign’s defense of the Iowa Democrat echoes what they said last summer in response to a Fox News Digital report that showed Mathis rallied support for $2.5 million in tax breaks for Prospect Meadows, an Iowa-based nonprofit that paid her husband’s marketing firm almost $150,000 for consulting services.
While repeatedly touting Prospect Meadows as a state senator, it does not appear that Mathis disclosed to the public that Prospect Meadows was a client of the marketing firm her husband co-owned at the time.
As a member of the Health Care Policy Legislative Oversight Committee, Mathis also helped lead the fight in 2015 against Medicaid privatization and was one of three Democratic state senators urging federal officials to “reject or delay” Medicaid privatization efforts. Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, among other healthcare groups, was also vocal about opposition to privatizing Medicaid.
Between July 2015 and June 2016, Mercy Medical Center paid AMPERAGE $875,660 for “marketing consultation” according to their 2016 fiscal year tax documents.
“As an independent, non-profit hospital, none of the funds were state dollars,” a spokesperson for Mercy Medical Center said in response to Fox News Digital’s questions. “Mercy has no unique connection to Mrs. Mathis other than her being the area’s State Senate representative, so no, there was no connection or influence related to Mrs. Mathis and these funds.”
“Mercy’s current ad agency of record is Amperage. However, before this, for over 20 years Mercy was a client of Henry Russel Bruce (HRB), another local ad agency,” the spokesperson continued. “HRB merged with ME&V to become Amperage in 2014. Mercy’s account simply moved over as part of the transition and is not related to any effort by or relationship with Liz Mathis.”
The Mathis campaign defended her push against privatizing Medicaid in 2015, calling her a “watchdog.”
“In this instance, Liz was proudly doing what she has become known for: serving as a watchdog to protect Iowa’s Medicaid system – raising concerns shared by independent federal regulators,” the Mathis campaign said in an email to Fox News Digital. “She’ll do that same job in Congress, working to hold Democratic or Republican administrations accountable.”
“In addition, the majority of the funds going to Amperage are simply pass-through costs, which are then paid to various media outlets since Amperage coordinates our advertising placements,” the Mercy spokesperson said.
“It would be a misrepresentation to imply those dollars just went to and benefited Amperage,” the spokesperson continued.
AMPERAGE’s President and CEO Bryan Earnest, who has donated at least $1,000 to Mathis’s House campaign through ActBlue, told Fox News Digital in a Monday email that “Our employees and our history of deliver[ing] outstanding results for our clients are how we’ve secured contracts.”
“As we’ve previously said, Liz was not an owner and did not play a role in our work or official business,” Earnest added.
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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced in March that Mathis as was one of their top-tier “Red to Blue” program candidates. In addition to support from the DCCC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leadership PAC donated $5,000 to Mathis’s campaign in March. She also has received endorsements from many statewide candidates and lawmakers across Iowa.
Mathis is a former Iowa news anchor and served as a “project coordinator” between 2008 and 2021 for Four Oaks, which Mathis describes as “one of the state’s largest child welfare agencies” on her Linkedin profile. Mathis announced last summer that she was challenging freshman GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson, in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. During the first quarter of 2022, her campaign reported more than $715,000 in campaign contributions and nearly $2 million during the 2022 election cycle.
After falsely claiming for a decade that she was a “co-owner” and “owner” of a “family business,” Mathis has been in defense mode telling local media outlets that “Like many Iowans, my husband ran a small family business; and like many spouses, I experienced the stress and responsibility that comes with it.”