Grading State Disclosure 2008 Logo Graphic

I o w a


golden bar divider

Campaign Disclosure Law
Electronic Filing Program
Disclosure Content Accessibility
Online Contextual & Technical Usability

Grading Process green cube Subcategory Weighting green cube Methodology green cube Glossary

golden bar divider

The State of Disclosure in Iowa

Iowa earned a D+ and, based on improved scores in the law and usability categories, is one of the five most improved states since the original Grading State Disclosure assessment in 2003, when the state earned Fs in all four categories. The most significant area of improvement for Iowa has been in the usability category, where the state earned a B+ in 2008 and shares with Kansas the distinction of being the most improved state in this area since 2003.

Iowa’s campaign disclosure law improved from an F to a C since 2003, and ranked 30th in the Campaign Disclosure Law category in 2008. Candidates must report details of contributions of $25 or more, but disclosure of employer and occupation data is not required. Expenditures over $5 must be itemized, and subvendor data must be reported. Iowa’s governor signed Senate File 2400 into law in 2008, which tightens last-minute reporting requirements and allows the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board (IECDB) to create an online, searchable campaign finance database. Iowa passed legislation in 2007 that mandates electronic filing for challengers in 2010 and incumbents in 2012. The current voluntary program was used by half of the statewide candidates and 43 percent of legislative candidates in 2008.

Iowa failed to earn a passing grade in the accessibility category in 2008, primarily due to the lack of an online, searchable database of campaign finances. However, with authorization granted this year, the IECDB reports that a searchable database is in development and should debut by the end of 2008. Both electronic reports and scanned copies of paper reports are published on the disclosure site on the same day they are filed. A searchable database will greatly improve access to disclosure data, which is currently presented within PDF files that cannot be searched, sorted online, or downloaded into a spreadsheet for offline analysis. Another sign of the IECDB’s commitment to improving the accessibility of disclosure data is that agency reduced the cost it charges to mail paper copies of reports to the public from $.20 to $.15 per page.

Iowa’s strength is in the usability category, where it ranks as the most improved state since 2003. Iowa jumped from an F to a B+ and has climbed 40 places in the usability rankings since Grading State Disclosure 2003. As in 2007, the IECDB web site performed well on the usability test, and was improved in 2008 with a better system for viewing candidates’ reports. Reports are now organized under a candidate’s last name, in addition to reporting period. This change allows the public to more easily view a candidate’s filing history, including both original and amended reports. The site offers a wealth of contextual information, including disclosure requirements and restrictions, as well as options for comparing data across campaigns going back to 2001.

Quick Fix: Add the starting and ending dates for each reporting period within the index of a candidate’s reports.

Editor’s Pick: The “Campaign Finance Historical Trends” page offers the public many options for comparing both recent and historical campaign finance data across campaigns, elections, and reporting periods. View image

Disclosure Agency: Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board
Disclosure Web Site:

View past summaries of this state

View another state's summary:

Back to the Grading State Disclosure home page

First published September 17, 2008
| Last updated September 17 2008
copyright ©
Campaign Disclosure Project. All rights reserved.