Tom Steyer’s presidential campaign apologized on Thursday for “any miscommunication” it might have conveyed following a report that a top aide had privately offered campaign contributions to local candidates who would endorse Mr. Steyer.
The report by The Associated Press quoted one candidate for Iowa State Senate, Tom Courtney, saying he had “a bad taste in my mouth” after he was approached by the aide, Pat Murphy, a former Iowa House Speaker.
Reached by telephone, Mr. Courtney, from Burlington, Iowa, declined to comment on the report.
The A.P. article, which said that other candidates for state office had been offered similar deals, prompted swift denunciation from two of Mr. Steyer’s rivals in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted, “This Ain’t It.”
And Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana tweeted:
In a statement, the Steyer campaign denied it had made contributions to Iowa politicians as inducements for them to endorse him.
“Tom has not made any individual contributions to candidates in Iowa this year, and he will not be making any contributions,” the statement said, adding: “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.”
But the press release also included a statement from Mr. Murphy offering an apology for any misunderstanding.
“As a former legislator, I know how tricky the endorsement process can be for folks in Iowa. It was never my intention to make my former colleagues uncomfortable, and I apologize for any miscommunication on my part,” he said.
The controversy was the second this week for Mr. Steyer’s campaign. His South Carolina director resigned Monday following allegations that he stole volunteer data collected by the campaign of Senator Kamala Harris of California. He downloaded the information by using an account obtained when he worked with the South Carolina Democratic Party. The Steyer campaign suggested the download was inadvertent.
Mr. Steyer, a Californian who made his fortune in the hedge fund industry, has said he has $100 million to spend on his campaign. But only three months before the pivotal Iowa caucuses, he remains in single digits in polls there.
It was not clear whether Mr. Steyer’s groups — NextGen America, For Our Future or Need to Impeach — had supported any Iowa candidates this year.
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