All summer long, CCI members across the state have been confronting Governor Branstad about Regent Bruce Rastetter’s misconduct. Two weeks ago, it was Garry Klicker from Bloomfield. Last week, it was Patti Edwardson from Jefferson and another member in Rockwell City. Yesterday it was Evan Burger, a CCI member from Huxley.

Evan ran into Branstad at the Iowa State Fair and took the opportunity to ask him some tough questions about Rastetter. When Evan asked what the governor thought about the scandal surrounding Rastetter’s ethics violations, Branstad asked, “What scandal? There’s no scandal.” Evan then asked whether Branstad had looked at the emails obtained by CCI which prove that Rastetter abused his position as a regent.

Branstad said he had not, but that the Ethics Board is responsible for looking into that evidence and making a decision. Evan continued to press Branstad, asking, “So if the board finds Rastetter guilty of an ethics violation, you will ask him to give up his position as a regent?” Branstad avoided the question by claiming that the governor does not have the power to fire a regent.

Evan pointed out that Branstad was able to force David Miles and Jack Evans out of their positions as President and President Pro Tem of the Board of Regents to make room for Branstad appointees Rastetter and Craig Lang. Branstad responded that “he simply let it be known that he would like them to step down,” and they decided to comply. Evan then asked the obvious question: “If Rastetter is found guilty, will you let it be known that you would like him to step down?” Before Branstad could answer, his handlers hurried him away from Evan.

The Iowa State Fair is an excellent opportunity to challenge our elected officials on important issues like the Rastetter scandal – keep your eyes open and you never know who you’ll see out shaking hands! And if you do get the chance to ask Branstad or anyone else about Rastetter, give the CCI office a call at 515-282-0484 or email us at iowacci@iowacci.org and let us know!

 

Ask Branstad to “simply let it be known” that Rastetter needs to go!

Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter —  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest.

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Des Moines, Iowa —

During a townhall meeting in Rockwell City yesterday, Governor Terry Branstad told an Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) member from Webster County that an ethics complaint filed against Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter by Iowa CCI members would be dismissed by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on August 23.

“There is supposed to be a firewall between the governor’s office and the ethics board,” said Hugh Espey, Iowa CCI’s executive director.  “If that firewall has been breached, it could be an even bigger scandal than Rastetter pushing ISU to support a corporate land-grab in Tanzania.”

Members of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board are appointed by the governor to six year terms, but the board itself is supposed to be independent and free from any influence from the governor’s office.  Iowa CCI member say they believe it is against Iowa law for the governor’s office to have any communication with the ethics board about pending complaints.

On Wednesday, an Iowa CCI member from Webster County attended a townhall meeting in Rockwell City and publicly asked Branstad if he would fire Rastetter.  Branstad told the gathered crowd that he supported Rastetter but would wait for an August 23 decision by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board before considering the matter.

However, the Webster County man – who has ties to Iowa State University and wishes not to be identified for fear of reprisals – says he approached Branstad privately after the townhall had concluded to press Branstad further and that the governor told him the complaint would be dismissed.

“Branstad did say it was his understanding that this was all going to be dismissed anyway,” the Webster County man told Iowa CCI staff who transcribed the conversations.  “He didn’t say where he heard that.  But he offered that himself.  It wasn’t about me probing him or anything he just offered it himself.  So a bell went off in my head that they were going to just sweep this thing under the rug.”

Governor Branstad has been hounded by questions regarding Rastetter’s ethical conduct during townhall tours of Iowa the last two weeks, including in Bloomfield in SE Iowa on August 1, in Coon Rapids in Western Iowa on August 6, and in Rockwell City on August 8.

Iowa CCI members called Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board executive director Megan Tooker Thursday morning and left a message on her voicemail asking for comment.  Iowa CCI members also sent her a letter Thursday morning demanding answers.

 

Add your name to the petition calling on Branstad to do the right thing and Fire Bruce Rastetter:

Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter —  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest.

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Coon Rapids, IA —

Patti Edwardson of Jefferson Iowa asked Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds to fire Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter for ethics violations during a townhall meeting in Carroll County in Western Iowa Monday afternoon.

“I am a school teacher and like most teachers I try to teach my students about basic moral values including respect for others and for the environment, good character, and ethical conduct,” Edwardson told the governor.

“Our state leaders are role models for our students. When my students return to school on August 23, will I be able to tell them that our governor upheld Iowa ethics laws and fired Bruce Ratstetter from the Board of Regents because of his ethics violations?”

Branstad briefly defended Rastetter and said he would wait for an Aug 23 ruling by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board before considering the matter further.

Last week, independent family farmer and small business owner Garry Klicker of Bloomfield, Iowa asked Governor Branstad a similar question during a townhall meeting in SE Iowa.

Iowa CCI members filed a conflict of interest complaint against Rastetter after emails released to the Associated Press show Rastetter used the office of the regents in an attempt to leverage Iowa State University’s international reputation for a massive corporate land grab in Africa.  The plan could displace tens of thousands of refugees while making him and his investment partners hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-free profit.

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board will decide whether or not to investigate Iowa CCI members’ ethics complaint during their next board meeting at noon, August 23, in Des Moines.

Do you agree with Patti? Add your name to the petition calling on Branstad to Fire Bruce Rastetter:

Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter —  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest.

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Bloomfield, Iowa —

Independent family farmer and small business owner Garry Klicker of Bloomfield told Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds to fire Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter for ethics violations during a townhall meeting in Davis County in Southeast Iowa Wednesday afternoon.

“Rastetter did a real number on Davis county back when he was building factory farms down here with Heartland Pork, and now he’s trying to do the same thing in Tanzania,” Klicker said during a Q&A period.  “What he did was a conflict of interest.  Mr. Governor, I think you should ask Rastetter to step down from the Board of Regents.”

Branstad briefly defended Rastetter and said he would wait for an Aug 23 ruling by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board before considering the matter further.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members will attend an Iowa Board of Regents meeting in Cedar Falls on Friday and demand the regents enforce their ethics policy.

 

Do you agree with Garry? Add your name to the petition calling on Branstad to Fire Bruce Rastetter:

Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter —  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest.

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Last month, CCI members filed a conflict of interest complaint against Bruce Rastetter with the Iowa Ethics Board. The fact that Rastetter’s actions violate the State of Iowa’s general conflict of interest policy is obvious to everyone familiar with the situation.

But Rastetter’s misconduct also clearly violates the Board of Regents’ own conflict of interest policy. CCI members requested time on the agenda of the next Regents meeting to bring this important matter to the attention of the Board – but we were denied that opportunity not once but twice.

The Board of Regents doesn’t want the responsibility of enforcing their own ethics policy. Fortunately, the Ames Tribune did some digging and exposed the Board for trying to sweep this crucial matter under the rug. Read the article below!

 

Regents won’t put CCI on their agenda

By Hannah Furfaro

Staff Writer

They still have a pending ethics complaint filed with the Iowa ethics board, but the Des Moines-based advocacy group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was dealt a setback Monday when its request to get a spot on the Iowa Board of Regents’ agenda at its next meeting was denied.

Iowa CCI, which filed an ethics complaint against the board’s president pro tem, Bruce Rastetter, in June, recently requested to go before the regents to discuss its conflict of interest policy. Sheila Doyle Koppin, communications director for the regents, said Tuesday the group’s request was denied twice in the last two weeks.

The group has been traveling around the state in recent weeks building support for its ethics complaint with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, which accuses Rastetter of falsifying his financial disclosure forms this year and using his influence as a regent to get Iowa State University on board with an agricultural project his private company, AgriSol Energy, was working on in Tanzania.

At community forums and during media events over the last month, the group has called for the removal of Rastetter from his position as a regent.

Doyle Koppin said Robert Donley, executive director of the regents, denied Iowa CCI’s request because the board doesn’t have the power to remove Rastetter.

The denial letter from Donley, dated July 23, says he denied Iowa CCI a hearing at the regents’ meeting in Cedar Falls next week based on the group’s existing complaint with the state ethics board.

In the letter, Donley said Iowa CCI’s request to the regents contains the same facts as those presented in its formal ethics complaint. The state’s ethics board, he said, is better positioned to handle Iowa CCI’s request.

“The ethics board has been tasked with the responsibility of reviewing alleged conflict of interest violations for all branches of state government,” the letter reads. “Consequently, the board of regents is not the appropriate forum for resolving your concerns.”

Doyle Koppin said the decision was made in consultation with the board’s general counsel, but didn’t comment on whether denying agenda requests is common practice. She said Donley was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

David Goodner, of Iowa CCI, said the group hoped to discuss the regents’ specific conflict of interest policy, not the conflict of interest policy outlined in the Iowa Code, which is governed by the state’s ethics board.

“The regents’ ethics policy is something that entity came up with,” he said, “and presumably they are the ones that enforce it, so we requested a meeting with the board of regents … specifically to discuss the regents’ own ethics policy and that Rastetter violated it numerous times.”

Megan Tooker, executive director of the state ethics board, said her board does not have the authority to enforce the regents’ internal conflict of interest rules. The regents would be responsible for governing their own ethics code, she said.

But although they were denied a hearing, Goodner said about 100 members of Iowa CCI still plan to attend the regents’ meeting next week. While he stopped short of saying the group will hold a protest, Goodner said the group will try to make its case through informal means.

“There’s definitely an easy way and a hard way,” he said. “The easy way was to give us time on the board of regents’ agenda to discuss (its) ethics policy and how regent Rastetter violated that policy. The hard way is that we’re going to have a presence there and we’re going to make sure our voices are heard by the regents.”

Joe Murphy, spokesperson for Rastetter, said he didn’t have a comment on the regents’ policy or Iowa CCI’s request.

Add your name to the petition calling on Branstad to Fire Bruce Rastetter:

Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter —  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest.

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We’ve put Bruce Rastetter on the defensive! This last week, he went on a statewide media blitz claiming that his AgriSol project was designed to benefit the people of Tanzania and that he never abused his position on the Board of Regents to secure Iowa State’s backing for the project.

Of course, we know better.

And now it’s time to make everyone aware of the real facts about his land grab and about his conflict of interest.

CCI members across the state are doing just that by writing to their local newspapers and speaking the truth about Rastetter’s unethical actions.

Find two of the many examples below:

 

Regent Bruce Rastetter should no longer serve

(Published in the Daily Iowan on July 23.)

Regent Bruce Rastetter should no longer serve on our state Board of Regents. Here are the allegations that deserve close scrutiny by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. His company, AgriSol, planned a Tanzanian refugee land-grab deal that was not reported to the regents until six weeks after he joined.

He created his own $1.75 million endowed professorship to help advance this project. He falsified state financial disclosures. He has a real or perceived conflict of interest with Iowa State University. He is using Iowa State’s prestige and our taxpayer dollars to promote his business interests. His company stood to make millions by bringing large-scale industrial agriculture to Africa at little or no benefit to the people there.

What more is needed to conclude that this man should not be an educational leader for our great university system? Well, consider that he has no background in education, that he asked the governor to make him a regent, and he was Gov. Terry Branstad’s largest contributor to 2010 campaign. We must stop corporate corruption from eroding the integrity of our university system.

-Virginia Meyer, Lone Tree

 

Be wary of corporate funds

(Published in the Ames Tribune on July 20.)

As an Iowa State graduate, former instructor, and 45-year resident of Ames, I am chagrined at the apparent intertwining of the interests of Regent Bruce Rastetter and Iowa State. It cheapens all Iowa State degrees and taints the reputation of all Iowa State scholars. It robs the citizens of Iowa of the benefits of their land grant institution.

The University is on a slippery slope when it accepts corporate sponsorship of research. Researchers can never fully dismiss the sources of their paychecks, as they affect selection and design of their work. The case of Bruce Rastetter co-opting Iowa State to line his own pocket and embarrass everyone is an object lesson in what can happen. Iowans must step up to fully fund their public universities. Administrators forced to carry tin cups to curry favor with corporate elites will be sorely tempted to cut crucial ethical corners. Iowa State University belongs to the citizens of Iowa, and we need to claim it and pay for it. Corporate money that destroy our institution is not a bargain.

Deborah Fink, Ames

 

Add your name to the petition calling on Branstad to Fire Bruce Rastetter:

Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter —  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest.

Click here to read more and add your name.

 

 

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