Tom Steyer cafe diem

Presidential candidate and businessman Tom Steyer speaks to potential voters Aug. 10 at Cafe Diem in downtown Ames.

Editor's note: The article previously quoted Sen. Herman Quirmbach without having provided the full context of the Tom Steyer campaign staffer's actions. The article has been updated to reflect his statements with full context. The Daily regrets this error.

One of Tom Steyer’s top aides in Iowa, Pat Murphy, offered campaign contributions to local politicians in order to get support for Steyer’s White House bid.

"As a former legislator, I know how tricky the endorsement process can be for folks in Iowa,” Murphy said in a statement. “It was never my intention to make my former colleagues uncomfortable, and I apologize for any miscommunication on my part. I joined the campaign because I believe Tom is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump 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.”

Murphy, a former speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, did not deny he had offered campaign contributions in exchange for campaign endorsements in his statement.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, said these contributions are unusual.

"This is not generally done," Quirmbach said.  "I would never accept such a donation, nor would I approve of any other candidate or officeholder doing so." 

While it may be legal⁠ — if reported and non-corporate ⁠— Quirmbach said he knows of no specific case when this was done and would "strongly discourage" anyone from offering or accepting such a donation.

Murphy’s actions would only be illegal if they were not reported to election authorities as in-kind contributions.

The Steyer campaign released a statement noting they did not authorize the offer of donations for endorsements.

“Tom has not made any individual contributions to candidates in Iowa this year, and he will not be making any contributions,” the statement said. “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.”

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