Recently released emails show that Bruce Rastetter, President Pro Tem of the Iowa Board of Regents, abused his position on the Board by pushing for a partnership between Iowa State University and his agribusiness corporation, AgriSol Energy. CCI has posted these emails in full: download them here.

This 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. Investors like Rastetter stood to make millions from the project.

Mr. Rastetter is clearly unable to separate his role as a public Regent from his personal financial interest.

Further, his actions constitute a violation of Iowa Code 68B.2A and the Board of Regents conflict of interest policy, which prohibits “actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest” on the part of a Regent.

We believe that Rastetter’s misconduct is symptomatic of a pattern of cronyism and abuse of power on the part of Branstad appointees.

Governor Branstad must demonstrate his commitment to filling public positions with qualified applicants of integrity rather than major donors by asking Regent Rastetter to step down immediately.

Iowans should not wonder where the loyalties of their public servants lie.

The Iowa Board of Regents should have one priority above all others: enhancing the quality of life for Iowans by maintaining the educational quality, accessibility, and public service activities of Iowa’s three public universities.

Tell Governor Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter immediately and appoint a new Regent who puts education before personal gain.




 

 

Rastetter Must Resign From Board of Regents

Emails indicate Rastetter may have used his appointed public position to pursue a personal agenda

Des Moines, Iowa –  Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members demand Bruce Rastetter resign from his position on the Iowa Board of Regents immediately.  The public outcry comes after the  Associated Press reported on emails that showed Rastetter may have abused his #2 position on the board by pushing for a 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.

Iowa CCI members say they will consider a formal conflict of interest ethics complaint if Rastetter does not resign.

“This is the perfect example of what happens when Governor Branstad appoints a fox to run the henhouse,” said Ross Grooters, a CCI member from Pleasant Hill.  “Iowans shouldn’t have to wonder about who he was representing during these discussions – the Board of Regents or AgriSol.”

“Even the appearance of a conflict of interest is grounds for a resignation,” Grooters said.  “This looks pretty bad.  Rastetter needs to go because it looks like he used his position on the Board of Regents to pursue his own personal financial gain instead of pursuing the public interest and the common good as he was charged to do.”

The emails obtained by the Associated Press show that Rastetter actively participated in discussions about how Iowa State University could partner with AgriSol for a land-grab project in Tanzania.  The emails included discussions about an ISU proposal asking AgriSol for a 5-year funding commitment to the university in exchange for university assistance, at roughly the same time AgriSol approached ISU about the possibilities of securing a joint grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that both entities could financially benefit from.

Last July, Iowa State came under intense public scrutiny for its involvement in the AgriSol land-grab project in Tanzania.  But ISU officials continued to discuss a joint ISU/AgriSol partnership with Rastetter for weeks afterwards despite their acknowledgement that the university’s reputation had suffered because of the controversy.

Bruce Rastetter was Governor Terry Branstad´s top individual donor during the governor’s re-election campaign, with a 2010 year to date gift totaling $162,712, according to the National Institute for Money in State Politics. Rastetter also provided seed money for the shadowy American Future Fund that poured millions of secret dollars into smear campaigns against progressive Democrats across the country in 2010.  Rastetter is a venture capitalist who founded the now bankrupt Heartland Pork and later moved from factory farms into ethanol.

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National People’s Action director BUSTED during Occupy Wells Fargo action in Iowa

Family farmer, Methodist Minister, Vietnam veteran among group of 10 CCI members arrested at Wells Fargo’s Des Moines office during civil disobedience sit-in to demand big bank put everyday people before corporate profits

National People’s Action (NPA) director George Goehl was arrested alongside nine other members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) Monday afternoon during a direct action street protest at a Wells Fargo office in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, just one day before a Wells Fargo shareholders’ meeting in San Francisco, California is expected to draw thousands of demonstrators.

Dozens of protesters attempted to enter Wells Fargo’s downtown Des Moines offices but found it closed. Instead protesters blocked the front enterance and refused to leave until CEO John Stumpf agreed to give the 99% Power coalition 1 hour of time during the shareholders’ meeting agenda in San Francisco Tuesday to present their grievances to big bank officials.

The community-faith-labor coalition demands Wells Fargo stop home foreclosures, reduce principle balances on underwater mortgages, pay their fair share of taxes, get their big money out of the political system, and stop financing payday lenders, private prisons, factory farms, and coal plants.

“Not only does Wells CEO John Stump believe his bank is too big to fail, he also seems to believe they are too big to be held accountable,” Goehl said. “We’re here today in Des Moines, Iowa and tomorrow in San Francisco ,California to prove him wrong.”

Iowa CCI members – including a family farmer, a former Methodist minister, a Vietnam veteran, and a retired Ag extension officer – say they were forced to resort to civil disobedience after Wells Fargo officials refused to grant them speaking time at tomorrow’s shareholders’ meeting in San Francisco or negotiate CCI member’s “put people first” demands in good faith.

“We’ve asked Wells Fargo four times in the past four weeks for 1 hour on stage tomorrow in San Francisco and they’ve said no every time,” said Stephanie Simmons, a former Methodist Minister from Guthrie Center, Iowa and CCI board member who was arrested Monday. “We want to talk about Wells Fargo’s shameful record on tax dodging, home foreclosures, predatory lending, political contributions, and CEO bonuses.”

Des Moines, Iowa is the national headquarters of Wells Fargo’s Home Mortgage division.

“Wells Fargo’s mortgage office here in Iowa is making billions in profits every year by kicking hardworking families out of their homes and they aren’t even paying taxes on their ill-got wealth,” said Kenn Bowen, a Vietnam veteran and retired communications worker from Winterset, Iowa who was arrested Monday. “That ain’t right. Wells Fargo should be broken up into smaller, community banks that will put people before profits.”

 The ten everyday people arrested Monday for trespassing at Wells Fargo’s Des Moines offices are:

  • George Goehl, NPA executive director
  • Stephanie Simmons, former Methodist minister and CCI board member
  • Kenn Bowen, Vietnam veteran and retired communications worker
  • Jim Yungclas, retired Ag extension officer and CCI board member
  • Hazel Zimmerman, 75+ year old family farmer
  • Misty Rebik, Iowa CCI latino community organizer
  • Shawn Gude, John Hopkins graduate student
  • Jessica Reznicek, unemployed worker
  • Ryan Laudick, unemployed worker
  • Julie Brown, bartender

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life – urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans – CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for 35 years.

More photos coming soon!

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The American economy is broken – it works for the wealthiest 1% and large corporation like Wells Fargo, not the 99%.

Banks have been controlling the economy for too long, setting the rules up in their own favor and escaping justice when their greed has devastating effects. It’s because they have the best government that their money can buy.

 

 

No more big bank money in our political system.

Wells Fargo and its top executives use money to make government work for them.

Wells Fargo makes contributions to candidates, ballot initiatives, Political Action Committees, and lobbyists in order secure preferential treatment from our government.

From 2008-2010 Wells Fargo spent:

  • $156,841 on State Ballot Measures[1]
  • $1,300,250 in Federal Candidate Contributions[2]
  • $11,040,000 in Lobbying Expenses[3]

From 2008-2010 Wells Fargo received:

  • $680,800,000 in a U.S. Tax Refund[4]
  • $49,370,000,000 in U.S. Profits[5]

The solution:

To secure a government of, by, and for the people we need to get unlimited, undisclosed corporate money out.

  • Wells Fargo must pledge to keep its money out of elections: Disclose corporate money in elections to date and pledge to keep all Wells Fargo money out of the 2012 and future elections.

 

>> Read more on our work to confront corporate power and Wells Fargo specifically.
>> Back to the WANTED: Wells Fargo page


[1] National Institute on Money in State Politics, www.followthemoney.org, Retrieved on March 22, 2012:http://www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=2818&y=0 [2] Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org, retrieved on March 22, 2012:http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00034595&cycle=2008  [3] Public Campaign. December 2011. “For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99%? How Corporations Pay More for Lobbyists Than in Taxes.” Page 2: http://publicampaign.org/sites/default/files/ReportTaxDodgerLobbyingDec6Final_rev.pdf [4] Citizens for Tax Justice & the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, November 2011, “Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010.” Page 49: http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf  [5] Citizens for Tax Justice & the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, November 2011, “Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010.” Page 49:http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf

 

Facing the worst income inequality in our nation’s history, it’s time for tax-dodgers like Wells Fargo to pay their fair share and help get America back on its feet.

It’s a revenue crisis. With all levels of government tightening the belt, and cuts in services and public budgets affecting all of us, America is seeing anew the reality that starved public budgets are the result of a long assault by corporations that are bent on minimizing their tax payments at all costs.

 

Wells Fargo is one of America’s biggest tax-dodgers.

We bailed out Wells with $43 billion of our money[i], but the company has gone on to make record profits, and paid negative income taxes over the last three years.

While we struggle to save our homes and schools, Wells Fargo refuses to pay its fair share.

  • Wells Fargo has amassed almost $18 billion in unpaid taxes over the last three years, tax money that was meant to pay for schools, repairing crumbling infrastructure, and putting America back to work. [ii]
  • Wells Fargo made a three-year US profit of $49.3 BILLION[iii], with an additional $1.6 billion stashed in offshore tax-havens. [iv]
  • Wells Fargo didn’t pay any taxes on its billions in profit. Instead, the corporation received a refund of $681 million on federal taxes from 2008 to 2010.[v]

The solution:

  • Wells Fargo should pay the statutorily required 35% corporate income tax and stop using offshore tax shelters and other corporate tax loopholes.
  • If Wells Fargo had paid the statutory 35% rate from 2008-2010, that money could have created between 255,000 and 432,000 jobs for Americans struggling with unemployment in the wage of the financial crisis.[vi]
  • Wells Fargo should disclose their Iowa tax return. We suspect they pay zero in Iowa taxes, but there are not required by the state to make that information public and has refused to disclose them when asked.
>> Read more on our work to confront corporate power and Wells Fargo specifically.
>> Back to the WANTED: Wells Fargo page


[i] Nomi Prins and Krisztina Ugrin. October 1, 2011. “Bailout Tally Report.” See Page 6 “Subtotal” under Wells Fargo [ii] Citizens for Tax Justice & the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. November 2011. “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10.” See Chart on Pg. 6 under under “25 Companies with the Largest Total Tax Subsidies, 2008-10” [iii] Citizens for Tax Justice & the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. November 2011. “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10.” See Chart on Pg. 34 under Wells Fargo “Three Year Totals” [iv] 2010 10-K Annual Financial Statement. See page 209 paragraph 4.[v] Citizens for Tax Justice & the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. November 2011. “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10.” See Chart on Pg. 34 under Wells Fargo “Three Year Totals”[vi] High end of range based on direct job programs spending as detailed in http://www.epi.org/page/-/american_jobs_plan/epi_american_jobs_plan.pdf, with low end of range based on tax-break or mortgage reduction strategies as detailed in http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/spending_priorities_PERI.pdf

Take the pledge: It’s time to “Move Our Money”













America deserves better. We’ve had enough.

I have a Wells Fargo (or other big bank) account and I’m ready, willing and able to move my money!

I want to be a part of a coordinated week of action to maximize our “Move our Money” impact. Email me the details.

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Wells Fargo has its hands deep in America’s pockets.

Having so far escaped justice for helping crash the economy, Wells Fargo has long taken more than its fair share.

The bank is making BILLIONS off the 99%, profiting at our communities loss by leading the nation in foreclosures, predatory lending and hoarding BILLIONS in unpaid taxes that should have gone to keep our schools open, caring for our elders and putting America back to work.

The American economy is broken – it works for the wealthiest 1% and large corporations like Wells Fargo, not for the 99%.

Take the pledge to move your money now! >>>

Wells Fargo and the other big banks have been running the show for too long. This spring, it’s our turn.

  • No more rules that benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99%.
  • No more big bank money in our democracy.
  • No more record profits without paying a fair share in taxes.
  • No more profiting off of private prisons and investing in factory farms.
  • Wells must end foreclosures as we know it, resettling mortgages to fair market value.

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