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Scholten Jan. 23, 2019 news conference

J.D. Scholten speaks at a news conference at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Scholten, a Sioux City Democrat who narrowly lost to Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King last fall, announced the creation of a nonprofit organization that will educate low-income, working class families on the availability of a state and federal income tax credit. 

SIOUX CITY -- J.D. Scholten, the Sioux City Democrat who nearly unseated U.S. Rep. Steve King in 2018, on Wednesday announced the creation of a statewide organization designed to educate working families that tapping into an existing tax credit can improve their financial standing.

Scholten told the Journal of his new endeavor ahead of his morning news conference at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.

Scholten and progressive entrepreneur Joe Sanberg, of California, announced the launch of Working Hero Iowa, a nonprofit organization that will promote the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Scholten said the tax credit is designed to encourage and reward work by supplementing the earnings of low-wage workers. He said Working Hero Iowa in the months leading to the April 15 filing day will highlight the benefits of the tax credit, and also direct people to free tax preparation services.

Scholten said it is important that Iowans who qualify, due their income levels, receive the credit, which he called “the most effective anti-poverty policy in America.”

“Iowans are leaving millions of dollars on the table by not doing all that we can to let those who are eligible know about their state and federal earned income tax credit,” Scholten said at the news conference. “Us at Working Hero plan to correct that.”

Sanberg said 53,000 Iowa families are eligible for the credit, which he said helps low-income families pay for necessities like groceries, rent and utility bills.

“In partnership with J.D. Scholten, we’re going to fight until every single Iowan who works can afford life’s basic needs,” Sanberg said. “We’ll be here as long as it takes, we’ll spend whatever is required to make sure that every Iowan who is eligible for the earned income tax credit gets the cash ... because if any single Iowan who is working can’t afford life’s basic needs, that’s one Iowan too many.”

Scholten said his organization will work to partner with others --- like AARP and United Way --- to spread its message and will operate similar to a grassroots campaign by traveling across the state to educate Iowans. He said events will be announced soon.

Scholten, a first-time candidate, lost to King by just 3 percentage points in a district with 70,000 more registered Republican voters than Democrats. It was King’s closest re-election victory in his nine-term career in Congress.

Asked about his political plans, Scholten said he is focused on Working Hero Iowa but also left the door open to a future campaign.

“November of 2020 seems pretty darn far away, to me at least. So I’m just trying to get this pushed, going around the state, raising awareness,” Scholten said. “But I’m leaving the door open.”

-- Journal Des Moines Bureau reporter Erin Murphy contributed from Des Moines.

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