Despite Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) rhetoric about growing up poor on Tuesday night, her family actually received hundreds of thousands of dollars in government aid between 1995 and 2009, the District Sentinel news co-op reported.
Farm subsidy records indicate that the freshman senator’s father, Richard Culver, has received $38,395 in commodity subsidies and conservation payments, with all but $12 of the money being used for support of his corn crops. Ernst’s uncle, Dallas Culver, has reportedly received $250,000 in federal corn subsidies and $117,141 in additional aid. And her paternal grandfather, Harold Culver, got an additional $57,479 in aid between 1995 and 2001.
Ernst did not mention her family’s use of federal programs during her response to the State of the Union. Instead, she said she was raised “simply” and taught to live within her means.
“I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry,” she said. “But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet. Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.”
She later promised that the new Republican-controlled Congress would “propose ideas that aim to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget.”
Radio Iowa reported last May that Ernst said she “philosophically opposed” to federal farm subsidies during a GOP primary debate. However, she added, she would continue to support them if elected.
“Reality is that with the subsidies, unless we’re eliminating all of them across the board at the same time for every sector out there, then I’ll go ahead and support those subsidies,” she said at the time.
Salon reported last October that Ernst’s father received more than $200,000 in contracts for his construction company during her stint as auditor for Montgomery County, despite a state rule requiring that contracts be voided if a county official or employee “had an interest” in the contractor.
Media Matters reported that several media outlets ignored Ernst’s omission regarding her family’s federal aid.
[h/t Crooks & Liars]