Olson returning Iowa governor campaign contributions

Unsure how much will be returned, but latest campaign finance report showed $117,000 on hand

James Q. Lynch
Published: January 21 2014 | 3:29 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:28 am in

Democrat Tyler Olson, who dropped out of the race for the party’s 2014 nomination for governor, is in the process of returning campaign donations to contributors.

Olson, a state representative from southeast Cedar Rapids, said Tuesday he’s unsure how much of the $330,000 he raised will be returned to donors. Some campaign funds were spent before he left the race in December, but according to his campaign report to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board he had $117,000 cash on hand.

Olson left the race after disclosing that he and his wife, Sarah, were divorcing. The father of two young children, Olson said he would “continue to focus on my family,” finish his term in the Iowa House and look for opportunities to serve the community.

Although he had several options, Olson has chosen to return contributions. He did not specify whether he was returning funds on a pro rata basis.

According to the campaign finance report, 30 percent of his funds came in a $100,000 donation from AFSCME, a 40,000-member public employees union. Olson also received $10,000 from Ravi Patel of Iowa City, $5,000 from Mary Ann Peters, wife of Gazette President Chuck Peters, and $3,000 from Catherine Gullickson, also of Cedar Rapids.

Olson received 10 contributions between the time he suspended his campaign Dec. 3 and the end of the year – none larger than $100.

Olson could have used the funds for constituent services or turned the funds over to the Democratic Party, a 501(c)3 charity or the state or any political subdivision of the state, according to state law.

Presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines, earlier reported raising $447,000 in 2013, including a loan of $140,000 and $20,000 in donations to his campaign.

Republican incumbent Gov. Terry Branstad raised $3.4 million in 2013 and has $4.1 million in cash on hand. His largest contributions were eight checks for $25,000 from James Cownie and John Pappajohn, both of Des Moines, Denny and Candy Elwell of Ankeny, Mark Falb of Dubuque, John Gleeson of Sioux City, Charlene Lamberti of Ankeny, Kyle Krause of Waukee and Bruce Rastetter of Alden.

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