Republican Senator Joni Ernst, whose infamous pig castration campaign ad helped propel her to the spotlight of her party and ultimately the Senate, used her campaign to call on Washington to start living within its means. This was something, according to Ernst, that her family was forced to do her entire life.
Her response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, which she delivered officially on behalf of the GOP, echoed those sentiments and called for cuts in government spending and less reliance on federal assistance. Despite her criticism of government benefits and claims of having to live within her family’s means, it appears that Ernst’s family received nearly half a million dollars in taxpayer-funded handouts.
According to public records obtained by the District Sentinel, Ernst’s family received nearly $460,000 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009.
“I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry,” Ernst said during Tuesday’s State of the Union response. “But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet. Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.”
The Sentinel found that Ernst’s father, Richard Culver, received $38,395 in taxpayer handouts that went towards corn subsidies. Her uncle, Dallas Culver, reportedly also received nearly $370,000 in agriculture subsidies.
Ernst said during primary debate last year that while she is “philosophically opposed” to federal agricultural assistance programs, she would support such programs “unless we’re eliminating all of them across the board at the same time for every sector out there.”