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.

2011:

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

2012:

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

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/0aaff6bf8b3a4b8ab39c5a4c2a6a4a0a/IA–Regent-Ethics-Complaint

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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