Harkin, Ganske trade campaign barbs

DES MOINES (AP) -- Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Greg Ganske traded barbs over pension management Wednesday, with Harkin accusing his Republican rival of seeking to shift attention away from corporate scandals.

Ganske launched the latest exchange by accusing Harkin of rejecting a Labor Department request for expanded powers to examine union financing. He argued that there have been examples of pension scandals at labor unions, and the expanded powers would allow those scandals to be averted.

"We have seen too many scandals in corporate America and, sadly, it has caused Americans to lose their savings," said Ganske, in a conference call with reporters. "But these scandals are happening in unions. They may not have received as much media attention, but these union pension scandals are real."

In addition, Ganske said the Labor Department sought an additional $3.4 million to combat union corruption, which Harkin rejected.

"When it comes to pension protections, it shouldn't matter if you are a union member or not," said Ganske.


Harkin rejected the claims, arguing that Ganske was simply seeking to divert attention.

"I find it weird that at a time of corporate malfeasance, Greg Ganske is hammering working people and their unions," said Harkin spokesman Chris Moody.

He said Labor Department officials already have the power to launch an audit of a union if there's the slightest evidence of a scandal, and the new reporting requirements wouldn't have altered that. He said that the new reporting requirement were simply designed to hamstring local unions.

Moody also said Harkin took the $3.4 million and used it to create an office of pension security to better monitor pension funds, and he accused Ganske of opposing that.

Most argue that running scandals in corporate finances that have hammered many retirement plans work against Republicans in subtle ways, largely because the party is viewed as being close to big business.

Moody accused Ganske of seeking to divert attention away from corporate scandals.

Ganske said that scandals should be pursued whether they are in corporations or unions.

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