07/29/2014 12:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

GOP Senate Candidate Joni Ernst Takes Heat For Big Oil Fundraiser

GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst, who's running for Iowa's open seat, is under fire for planning to attend a fundraiser with the political action committees of the American Petroleum Institute and Exxon Mobil on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

The Democratic group Americans United For Change is running a radio ad slamming Ernst for the upcoming fundraiser, saying that "Big Oil thinks Joni Ernst is on their side, and she sure isn't refusing their money ... tell Joni her Big Oil friends are no friends to Iowa farmers and our rural economy."

Ernst said in an April interview that she stands "behind the renewable fuel standards" and while she's philosophically "opposed to subsidies," she won't "do something that puts Iowa at risk."

The renewable fuel standard requires biofuels like ethanol to be used in certain vehicles rather than relying exclusively on traditional oil sources, such as petroleum, from foreign countries. Iowa's economy is a big beneficiary of ethanol usage, though the resulting decrease in demand for foreign oil doesn't sit well with companies like Exxon Mobil.

Ernst, who's currently a state senator, has responded to the criticism by saying that she doesn't "feel uncomfortable" attending fundraisers for Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute because those oil companies know where she stands on the renewable fuel standard.

Ernst also received criticism recently for claiming that individual states can nullify federal laws, and for past comments in which she entertained the idea of President Barack Obama being impeached.

HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, has Ernst nearly tied with challenger Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) ahead of the November general election:

UPDATE: Ernst's spokesperson gave the following statement on this story to HuffPost:

Joni Ernst has shown strong support of RFS in the past and her voting record in the state senate proves that.



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