Tom Steyer aide reportedly offered Iowa politicians money in exchange for a presidential endorsement

Tom Steyer.
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

One scandal involving a Tom Steyer aide apparently wasn't enough for a single week.

A top aide to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has privately offered Iowa politicians campaign contributions in exchange for an endorsement of his White House run, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

Pat Murphy, an adviser on Steyer's Iowa campaign and former state House speaker, has reportedly been making these offers, though AP doesn't have evidence that anyone actually accepted them. AP notes that this is not illegal unless payments weren't disclosed, but this still "could revive criticism that the billionaire Steyer is trying to buy his way into the White House."

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Numerous Iowa politicians spoke for the report and confirmed having received these offers, with one former state senator running for his old seat, Tom Courtney, saying he was told, "you help them, and they'll help you" and that this "left a bad taste in my mouth." Steyer's campaign press secretary, Alberto Lammers, said Murphy wasn't authorized to make these offers and that the campaign outside of Iowa didn't even knew this was happening.

"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," Lammers said.

In a statement, Murphy said it was "never my intention to make my former colleagues uncomfortable, and I apologize for any miscommunication on my part." He did not deny the report.

This comes just days after reports that a Steyer aide allegedly stole presidential campaign data from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). The aide has since resigned, and the campaign claimed that he accessed the data not realizing it wasn't theirs. Steyer said this week he was "deeply disappointed to learn of this situation."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.