Rastetter describes documented land grab attempt as “misinformation.”

National powerhouse environmental group Food and Water Watch (FWW) has signed on to our ethics complaint against Iowa Regent and AgriSol CEO Bruce Rastetter stepping up criticism of the embattled Regent. FWW has been a long time ally of CCI.

“Rastetter has betrayed the trust of the Iowans he is supposed to be serving on the Board of Regents and has severely compromised the institutional credibility of ISU,” said FWW Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “His continued presence on the Board sends a strong message that Iowa State exists to serve the political and corporate elite, not the hard-working, honest family farmers and everyday citizens whose taxpayer dollars fund the university.”

FWW signed onto our ethics complaint on the same day that Rastetter denied any conflict of interest in an interview with the Des Moines Register. Rastetter claims that ISU pulled out of the AgriSol deal because of “misinformation” that was “difficult to counteract.” Far from being “mis-“information, CCI members know that the news about AgriSol and ISU was difficult to counteract because it was true! ISU and AgriSol were involved in shady dealings with the Tanzanian government that, far from feeding anybody, would have made millions of dollars while displacing 160,000 refugees.

CCI expects the ethics complaint to be considered by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on August 13.  CCI members have been hosting “Fire Rastetter” events all across the state, so check the calendar regularly to see when we will be in your area.

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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A letter from CCI member Susie Petra appeared in today’s edition of the Ames Tribune. Susie does a fantastic job of getting the word out about Bruce Rastetter’s misconduct! Her full letter is below.


I have always been proud to say that Iowa State University is my alma mater. I had inspiring instructors across many departments, and have made lasting friendships with many of them.

But as an alum, I have become deeply disappointed lately about ISU’s collusion with Regent Bruce Rastetter and his plans to displace over 160,000 refugees currently living in Tanzania. Mr. Rastetter proposed building a giant, industrial, corporate “farm” to allegedly help the refugees, who have been farming successfully using methods appropriate to that environment.

Mr. Rastetter proposed renting 800,000 acres for 25 cents per acre. Make no mistake, at prices like that, this arrangement would have meant BIG profits for Rastetter and his company AgriSol.

ISU’s College of Agriculture would have received some money for scholarships, as well. But ISU should be promoting policies which help farmers and consumers, not policies that enrich big corporations and corporate donors and hold no promise of scientific advancement. Mr. Rastetter did not disclose his conflict of interest when he proposed the project. Only AFTER the scandal had become public knowledge did both he and ISU distance themselves from the project.

Because of his egregious abuse of power and position, Mr. Rastetter has caused damage to ISU’s reputation of doing independent, fair-minded research. Mr. Rastetter should resign from the Iowa Board of Regents.

This incident raises a larger issue — increasing corporate money funding research at our public universities. This type of funding inevitably shapes the research carried out, influencing which questions are studied and which answers are taken seriously. The nature of research should be driven by scientists, not corporate donors. Money gives corporations power and influence over public universities, which have historically been our most productive source of independent-minded research.

This Thursday, July 19, two groups — Food & Water Watch and Iowa CCI — will be in Ames to provide more information about this issue. The public is invited to attend at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1015 N. Hyland at 7 p.m.

You can also sign a petition asking to have Mr. Rastetter removed from the Iowa Board of Regents:  http://iowacci.org/clean-elections/fire-bruce-rastetter/


Take Action

  • 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 interestClick here to read more and add your name.
  • Learn more about the meeting Susie mentions here.

Join the fight

Bruce Rastetter is no stranger to Iowa CCI members. We started fighting his Heartland Pork factory farms in the late 90’s. Since then he has continued to make his big money mark across Iowa, starting and selling ethanol plants under his Hawkeye Renewables, and most recently with his AgriSol effort. His political power has grown too, through hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to candidates, and millions spent in shadowy political attack groups like the American Future Fund and Team Iowa PAC.

Yesterday we filed a conflict of interest complaint against Rastetter. (Read some of the press coverage of the event here) Now we have compiled a timeline of Rastetter’s involvement in the AgriSol affair and his attempts to use ISU to further the project.


2007: Rastetter donates $1.7 million to ISU

2008: Rastetter begins talks with Tanzanian government

2009: Collaboration between ISU and AgriSol begins

2010: Rastetter is the single biggest donor to the Branstad campaign, giving more than $164,000.


February 25: Branstad appoints Rastetter to Board of Regents

May 1: Rastetter’s term begins: he should have recused himself from discussions of an ISU partnership with AgriSol at this point.

May 18: Rastetter finances a $13,000 trip for ISU officials to Tanzania


June 14: Des Moines Register publishes AgriSol expose

June 17: Rastetter discloses his financial interest in AgriSol to the public

July: Rastetter elected President Pro Tem of Board of Regents

September 13: Rastetter finally recuses himself from discussions of partnering with ISU — four months after he becomes a Regent.

September 26: Dan Rather reports on AgriSol


February: ISU cuts all ties to Tanzania project

April 24: Rastetter files a false financial disclosure report with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board

June 19: Iowa CCI members file a conflict of interest complaint against Rastetter with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

Take Action

  • 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.

Join the fight

Yesterday morning, over thirty CCI members filed a formal conflict of interest complaint against Bruce Rastetter with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. Curious about what happened yesterday? You can read the complaint in its entirety here, a short summary of the complaint here, or the Associated Press story on our complaint below.




Group files ethics complaint against Board of Regents member Rastetter over Tanzania project


DAVID PITT  Associated Press June 19, 2012 – 2:02 pm EDT

DES MOINES, Iowa — A watchdog group filed an ethics complaint Tuesday against Iowa Board of Regents member Bruce Rastetter, accusing him of abusing his position on the board overseeing public universities while pursuing a partnership between Iowa State University and his agribusiness corporation, AgriSol Energy.

Rastetter participated in discussions the university had about working with AgriSol to develop a huge commercial farming operation in Tanzania, a project critics have called a land grab.

“This looks pretty bad,” said Ross Grooters, a Citizens for Community Improvement member from Pleasant Hill, in a statement. “Rastetter needs to go.”

About 30 members of the Des Moines-based group delivered the complaint to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on Tuesday.

Rastetter’s spokesman, Joe Murphy, said in a statement that an ethics review is welcome and he will cooperate fully.

“We are hopeful that this review will address any questions surrounding Bruce’s commitment to public service here in Iowa and abroad,” he said. “As we have stated before, there is no conflict of interest. Bruce has long been an advocate for education and agriculture and has a strong tradition of providing support and gifts to the Regent institutions.”

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Rastetter, an agribusiness executive who donated $160,000 to the governor’s 2010 campaign, to the board in February 2011. Rastetter had been working on behalf of AgriSol with ISU since 2009 on a plan to develop 800,000 acres of Tanzanian farmland for crop production.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht responded to a request for comment on the allegations by email.

“We are fully confident in the judgment of Regent Rastetter on his decision regarding when to recuse himself,” he wrote.

Critics opposed the Tanzania project because the land had for decades housed 160,000 refugees from Burundi who were being relocated by the Tanzanian government. Investors, who stood to earn millions if the project was successful, argued it would help residents by improving food production and farming techniques. They added they had no role in the relocation.

Officials with ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which received a $1.75 million gift from Rastetter in 2007, were to implement an AgriSol-funded program providing a range of services and training to help farmers in the area.

Rastetter waited until June 17, 2011 — six weeks after his term started and four months after his appointment — to disclose the conflict, doing so only after the project received publicity. He waited until Sept. 13 before recusing himself from discussions related to ISU’s involvement. That was the same day the university abandoned plans to seek a multimillion-dollar federal grant with AgriSol.

CCI, in its complaint, claims Rastetter falsified financial disclosure statements to the state’s ethics board by omitting information about his wealth and job responsibilities with AgriSol and other companies he manages.

The group says he violated the state’s executive branch ethics law and a separate section of the state code that makes it illegal to falsify disclosure statements.

It also says he violated the regents’ conflict of interest policy, which says “Regents and institutional officials must endeavor to remain free from the influence of, or appearance of, any conflicting interest in acting on behalf of the Board or a Regent institution. Such interest may include, but are not limited to, employment, ownership of, or service on, the board of directors of an organization that has or may have relationships with the Board or a Regent institution.”

CCI said it wants Rastetter to resign from the board or, if he refuses, Branstad to remove him.

Ethics board Executive Director Megan Tooker said a decision will be made first about whether the complaint contains sufficient legal grounds to launch an investigation.

If so, the board orders an investigation.More serious violations may lead to a contested hearing, which is similar to a trial with witnesses, testimony and evidence. If the board eventually determines a violation occurred, it can issue fines.

It cannot remove an executive branch appointee from office. It can only recommend the appointing authority — in this case the governor — remove the violator.

Other media outlets around the state covered our action yesterday as well, including:

Des Moines Register

Radio Iowa

Ames Patch

Iowa State Daily

Ames Tribune


Take Action

  • 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.

Join the fight

Rastetter needs to leave Board of Regents

Appeared in the Sunday, July 17 Des Moines Register

Former Des Moines Superintendent Nancy Sebring’s career is over after personal emails to her lover were released to the public. But what will happen to Iowa Board of Regents President Pro-tem Bruce Rastetter’s career after his emails go viral?

From the looks of things, Rastetter abused his position on the regents by pushing for a financial partnership between Iowa State University and his agribusiness corporation, AgriSol Energy. The project involved an attempted land-grab in Tanzania that would have displaced thousands of refugee farmers. Investors like Rastetter stood to make millions.

Rastetter needs to go. Gov. Terry Branstad needs to rethink his policy of appointing top corporate donors to government posts they have no business being in. And the Des Moines Register should put more resources into investigating political corruption scandals than they do harmless sex stories.

— David Goodner, Des Moines


Rastetter needs to leave the Board of Regents

Appeared in the Tuesday, July 19 Des Moines Register

Gov. Terry Branstad has made education a big priority for the state of Iowa, so why has leadership failed to present our youth with one of the most basic lessons, integrity?

The Register published an Associated Press story (June 13) about emails that contain details of how Bruce Rastetter, a gubernatorial appointee to the Iowa Board of Regents, actively participated in discussions about how Iowa State University could partner with AgriSol, a company that positioned itself to make millions in profit by displacing tens of thousands of people from a self-sustaining community in Tanzania.

It would appear Rastetter, co-founder and investor in AgriSol, not only didn’t disclose his relationship with the company, but removed himself from negotiations for the project only after news of the potential deal went public and recused himself from the partnership with ISU only as the deal dissolved.

After reading how the line was blurred between loyalty to the Board of Regents and loyalty to personal profit, it is time to bring that line into focus. Simply by creating the appearance of putting personal profit before the education of our public university students, Bruce Rastetter didn’t blur the line, he crossed it.

Iowans should not wonder where the loyalties of their public servants lie. Our state needs to place the future of our children’s education in the hands of a better steward. It’s time for Terry Branstad to accept the resignation of Regent Bruce Rastetter.

— Ross Grooters, Pleasant Hill

Take a stand against Branstad’s appointments

Appeared in the Saturday, July 16 Cedar Rapids Gazette

Here in Iowa, we’re good neighbors and factory farms just aren’t.

Too often, they build without consideration for neighbors’ quality of life, property values or environment.

That’s why Iowa CCI members across the state are taking corporate ag giants such as Cargill, Iowa Select and Prestage Farms to task.

We need to take a stand. Gov. Terry Branstad has appointed factory farm insiders like Brent Rastetter [Bruce Rastetter’s brother], who makes a living building factory farm barns and manure pits, to the Environmental Protection Commission, putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Outgoing Department of Natural Resources Director Roger Lande was replaced by Branstad with former House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp — he spent most of his career trying to dismantle the DNR and now he’s going to run the place? It’s time to stand up and fight back.

— Barb Kalbach, Dexter


Take Action

  • 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.

Join the fight

On Wednesday, June 13, CCI received a cache of emails relating to the controversy surrounding Regent Bruce Rastetter’s attempts to abuse his position to establish a partnership between Iowa State University and his company AgriSol Energy.

Last year, the news came out that Bruce Rastetter, Governor Branstad’s biggest campaign donor, may have used his political influence as a member of the Iowa Board of Regents to broker a partnership between Iowa State University and his company AgriSol Energy. The deal would have implicated the University — and by extension the people of Iowa — in a massive land-grab in Tanzania that would have displaced 160,000 refugee farmers, while investors like Rastetter stood to make millions from the project.

Rastetter’s dual role as a Regent and a venture capitalist created a clear conflict of interest, but Rastetter hid his financial interest from the public for as long as he could. The people of Iowa deserve to see all the emails relating to this scandal.

That is why today we have posted these documents online for anyone to download. They are in the four separate files below, just as we received them.

Rastetter emails1

Rastetter emails2

Rastetter emails3

Rastetter emails4


Rastetter emails5

Unfortunately, the emails are not in chronological order. We have read through most of the emails and uncovered some important content, including a mention of CCI and details about how closely Iowa State officials worked with Rastetter.

We need your help! The more eyes we have looking through these documents, the more light we can shed on this controversy. Read through the emails above, and let us know what you find.

We have also started a petition calling for Governor Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter in the light of this misconduct. Add your name here.