- Bachelor’s degree in psychology, Iowa State University. 
- Master’s degree in public administration, Columbus State University (formerly Columbus College). 
Joni Ernst is the Republican junior United States Senator for Iowa as of 2014, making her the first woman to represent Iowa in the United States Congress. Ernst was in the Iowa Senate for a term between 2011 and 2014, and prior to entering politics served in the Iowa Army National Guard for 23 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2015. , , 
Ernst was selected to give the 2015 Republican response to the president’s State of the Union and was elected vice chair of the United States Senate Republican Conference in November 2018. , 
Ernst has close ties to the Koch brothers’ political network, acknowledging at a conference in June 2014 that it was the Kochs and their allies that “really started my trajectory” towards the US Senate, adding: “And this is the thing that we are going to take back – that it started right here with all of your folks, this wonderful network.” 
In August 2013, Ernst was invited to a gathering of wealthy conservative donors and received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of television ads from the Koch network during her Senate race. Karl Crow, a long-time employee of the Kochs, created a nonprofit group called Trees of Liberty which spent $257,000 on statewide television advertising. According to a Politico report entitled ”How the Kochs launched Joni Ernst” Trees of Liberty also ran a web campaign attacking Ernst’s most competitive GOP rival, Mark Jacobs, a retired energy executive. The ads attacked Jacobs for supporting a proposal years earlier to limit carbon emissions. 
On her Senate profile, Ernst lists her priorities as “cutting out-of-control spending, reducing taxes, eliminating harmful regulations and balancing the budget.” Ernst serves on five Senate committees: Armed Services; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; Judiciary; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. 
One of Ernst’s key interests is defending agriculture from what she calls “undue regulatory burdens from Washington.” Ernst also claims to be “heavily engaged in defending the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)” which she calls a “valuable tool designed to promote the use of renewable fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, which helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” In her role as chair of the Rural Development and Energy subcommittee, she writes that the committee’s programs include “improving renewable energy and energy efficiency for farms and ranches.” 
Ernst states that she supports an “all-of-the-above energy approach” which includes “our plentiful fossil fuel reserves, increasing utilization of renewables and building on advances in energy efficiency.” She is a strong advocate for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, having been an original cosponsor of the legislation to approve its construction. 
Ernst has called the “Green New Deal” proposed by Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “socialist fantasy” that would “bankrupt our nation and devastate our rural communities,” claiming it would cost $93 trillion over ten years. 
Ernst’s views and approach to politics have been compared to those of Sarah Palin. Ernst has a hardline rightwing position on many social issues, having endorsed banning abortions and many forms of birth control, privatizing Social Security and calling the existence of a federal minimum wage as “ridiculous.” She received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. , , 
Stance on Climate Change
September 28, 2014
“I don’t know the science behind climate change. I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact, whether it’s man-made or not. I’ve heard arguments from both sides. I do believe in protecting our environment but without the job killing regulations that are coming out of the EPA.” 
May 9, 2014
Ernst is quoted in a Des Moines Register report ahead of her Senate election as saying she had not seen proof that climate change is “entirely man-made.” In the same article, Ernst states that she is “adamantly opposed” to a cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
Joni Ernst on Abortion
Iowa Right to Life, described as “one of the state’s leading foes of abortion” backed Joni Ernst as one of its preferred candidates in 2014. She was one of 21 state senators who supported Senate Joint Resolution 10 in April 2013 which proposed to change Iowa’s Constitution to read “the inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected.” 
The so-called “personhood amendment would effectively define life as starting at conception. During a debate in the Republican primary for Senate, Ernst was asked who should be punished for performing abortions if a personhood amendment was in place. The Braley ad includes her answer. 
“I think the provider should be punished if there were a personhood amendment,” Ernst said. 
Some potential effects of the personhood amendment could include outlawing abortions even in cases of incest and rape. A local TV ad by the Bruce Braley Campaign emphasized this noting: 
“In the state Senate, Ernst sponsored an amendment to outlaw abortion, even in cases of incest or rape. And Ernst’s bill would have banned many common forms of birth control. Ernst even wants criminal punishment for doctors who perform an abortion.”
While Ernst never specifically advocated for some of these potential impacts of the personhood amendment, “Ernst supported the amendment and, therefore, everything that comes with it,” The Gazette‘s fact checkers reported, rating the Braley campaign’s claim as “true.”
March 6, 2019
“Don’t get me wrong. Increasing our reliance on renewables is a laudable goal and one that I support, but we have to be realistic about our current energy capabilities and needs.
“I’m proud to say that my home state of #Iowa is one of the nation’s leaders in renewable energy, with wind providing nearly 40% of our electricity, more than any other state.” 
June 5, 2018
“He is about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C., and if the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to take a look at his own Cabinet.” 
June 3, 2017
“Keeping our air and water clean and protecting our environment for generations to come is something we all care about. The United States can continue to do this without overly burdensome, government-imposed regulations that increase costs on Americans and hurt our economy… Whether or not the U.S. is a member of this agreement does nothing to preclude our country from reducing our emissions on our own accord, and finding market-driven, innovative solutions for our energy needs.” 
June 16, 2014
At a conference held by the Koch brothers, Ernst said it was the Kochs and their allies that “really started my trajectory” towards the US Senate, adding: “And this is the thing that we are going to take back – that it started right here with all of your folks, this wonderful network.” 
March 7, 2019
In a speech to the Senate, Ernst called the “Green New Deal” a “socialist fantasy” that would “bankrupt our nation and devastate our rural communities,” Breitbart reported. She claimed it would cost $93 trillion over ten years and that “every American family would have to pay $65,000 annually.” 
November 14, 2018
Ernst was elected vice chair of the United States Senate Republican Conference. 
February 26, 2015
January 24, 2015
Ernst spoke at the 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit held at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines. The event was jointly organised by and Citizens United, the right-wing dark money group that secured a controversial 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in 2010, allowing corporations and individuals to make unlimited “independent” political expenditures, leading to the rise of the “super PACs” and enormous (c)(4) non-profits running so-called “issue” ads timed to affect elections.
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse argues that this dramatic change in the law has been responsible for preventing the introduction of climate legislation in the US. Citizens United received funding from the Koch nework when it was created in 1988. , , 
January 20, 2015
May 9, 2014
- Republican Party — Junior United States Senator for Iowa. 
- Koch Industries — Credits the Koch’s network with starting her “trajectory” towards the US Senate. 
- Citizens United — Speaker at Iowa Freedom Summit, organised by Citizens United. 
- Trees of Liberty — Paid for ads attacking Ernst’s rival in Senate campaign. 
- American Conservative Union (ACU) — Vice chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). 
- Joni Ernst, Adam Andrzejewski. “Billion-Dollar Binge Buying Is No Way to Budget,” Real Clear Politics, May 1, 2019.
- “Full Text of Joni Ernst’s Republican Response to 2015 State of the Union,” The Daily Signal, January 20, 2015.
- “We Must End the Killing of Late-Term Babies,” The Daily Signal, February 12, 2019.
“Meet the Candidate: Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat: Joni Ernst, Republican,” Des Moines Register, June 4, 2015. Archived May 31, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
Maggie O’brien. “Joni Ernst’s Senate victory makes her first woman to represent Iowa in Congress,” Omaha World-Herald, November 5, 2014. Archived May 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/eOAqL
Alexander Bolton. “McConnell reelected as leader, Thune promoted to whip,” The Hill, November 14, 2018. Archived May 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/H9AxO
Sean Moran. “Joni Ernst Calls out $93 Trillion Green New Deal as ‘Raw Deal’ for America,” Breitbart, March 6, 2019. Archived May 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/B0kOb
Steve Benen. “The ‘perfect choice’ to serve as the voice of the 2015 GOP,” MSNBC, January 15, 2015. Archived May 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/xmIqk
“CPAC 2015 – Senator Joni Ernst, IA,” YouTube video uploaded by user American Conservative Union on February 26, 2015. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
Jason Noble. “Joni Ernst: I was ‘extremely offended’ by AWOL attack,” Des Moines Register, May 9, 2014. Archived May 31, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
“Don’t get me wrong. Increasing our reliance on renewables is a laudable goal and one that I support, but we have to be realistic about our current energy capabilities and needs.” Tweet by @SenJoniErnst, March 6, 2019. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
Robin Tysver. “Iowa and Nebraska lawmakers stand by Trump on Paris climate accord,” Omaha World-Herald, June 3, 2017. Archived May 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ffrKT
Diane Toomey. “How Big Money in Politics Blocked U.S. Action on Climate Change,” Yale Environment 360, May 10, 2017. Archived May 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/QVJXu
Sen. Joni Ernst. “Full Text of Joni Ernst’s Republican Response to 2015 State of the Union,” The Daily Signal, January 20, 2015. Archived May 31, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Y6MMj
William Petroski. ”Abortion foes back Ernst, Clovis, Whitaker for U.S. Senate; Jacobs not on list,” Des Moines Register, May 24, 2014. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/vy17O#selection-855.0-855.78
“Fact checker: Braley hits Ernst on abortion,” The Gazette, September 19, 2014.
Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY–SA 2.0