Fact Check: Initial Power Fund jobs count way off

Erin Jordan
Published: February 5 2014 | 4:36 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:14 am in Fact Check,
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Introduction

We reviewed a statement by former Iowa Rep. Pat Murphy, a Dubuque Democrat running for the 1st Congressional District. Murphy's website claim: “As Speaker of the Iowa House, Pat created the Iowa Power Fund, which brought 27,000 green jobs to Iowa, funded research in alternative energy and expanded Iowa's wind industry.”

Source of claim

Pat Murphy, former House of Representatives speaker and state representative, running for 1st Congressional District

Some political candidates say a lot on their websites, outlining achievements and describing their goals. Other sites have little more than a candidate photo and a “Donate Now!” button.

Murphy's website, patmurphyforiowa.com, has position statements on 10 issues that range from health care and the economy to organized labor and abortion. One of those claims was about how he "created the Iowa Power Fund."

The Power Fund was created by the Iowa Legislature in 2007 to promote research and early stage commercialization of renewable energy. About $75 million has been approved for projects that include biomass research, cellulosic ethanol plant construction and wind research, according to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).

As leader of the Democratic House Caucus in early 2007, Murphy selected five House Democrats to serve on a committee with Senate Democrats and then-Gov. Chet Culver's staff to draft a bill that became Iowa Power Fund legislation, according to Aaron Bly, Murphy's campaign manager.

Murphy was among House members who voted to establish and pay for the Power Fund.

The goal of the Power Fund wasn't to create jobs, and most award recipients haven't been required to track the number of jobs generated, said Tina Hoffman, IEDA spokeswoman.

One of the most recent projects to receive Power Fund money did have specific job targets. DuPont Danisco was required to create and maintain 60 jobs to receive $9 million from the Power Fund in 2011 to build a $235 million cellulosic ethanol plant in central Iowa.

A 2010 impact study of the Iowa Power Fund showed the 31 projects funded between 2008 and 2010 supported more than 1,600 in direct, indirect and induced employment through 2014.

Pat Murphy's online claim that the Power Fund created 27,000 jobs is way off. However, when The Gazette called Bly about the number, he did some research and confirmed the number was inaccurate.

“It was just an error on our part,” Bly said Wednesday. “I wrote those (position statements) my second week on the job last September.”

Bly said he wasn't trying to inflate the effects of the Power Fund. He since has changed the statement online to read that the program “brought thousands of green jobs to Iowa.”

The 2010 report said 1,636 direct, indirect and induced jobs through September 2010. Although the Power Fund has been winding down since 2010, at least 60 other jobs are predicted to arise from the DuPont project. That's pretty close to 2,000 estimated jobs, which fits Murphy's revised claim.

Conclusion

We give Pat Murphy a “false” for his previous online statement about the Iowa Power Fund creating 27,000 jobs. We give him – and campaign manager Bly – kudos for changing the statement and acknowledging the error.

Iowa Power Fund Economic Impact Study 2010:

http://publications.iowa.gov/15261/1/PowerFundFullEconomicImpactAnalysis121610.pdf


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