Regents, ISU Must Clarify What Role Rastetter Played in New ISU Lobbyist Hire
Regents hiring of Rastetter’s public relations chief Joe Murphy to be new ISU lobbyist raises renewed questions about Rastetter’s entanglement of private, public duties
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members call on Board of Regents Director Bob Donley and Iowa State University President Steven Leath to disclose to the public what role, if any, Bruce Rastetter played in the hiring of his corporation’s public relations director to be the new lobbyist for Iowa State University.
The Board of Regents announced yesterday that it had hired Joe Murphy – public relations director for Summit Group, Rastetter’s private multinational corporation – to be the new state relations officer for Iowa State University.
“There should be a firewall between Rastetter’s private business interests and his public duties as a Regent and whether or not he was personally involved in hiring his P.R. chief to be ISU’s new lobbyist, this is yet another example of why Iowans cannot trust this man to be a Regent,” said Cherie Mortice, an Iowa CCI member from Des Moines.
“Iowans deserve our land-grant university to be free from even the appearance of corporate influence.”
Rastetter has long stacked Iowa State University with his personal business associates, which critics have contended allows him to push his corporate agenda inside university circles and to use ISU for his own ends. Eric Peterson, the Vice President of Summit Group, sits on a quasi-secret ISU advisory panel. Kevin Kimle, the Rastetter Chair of Agricultural Entrepreneurship funded by a multimillion dollar endowment by Rastetter, helped push an AgriSol/ISU partnership for a landgrab in Tanzania.
Rastetter was the subject of a conflict of interest complaint filed by Iowa CCI members last summer for attempting to partner with ISU for the Tanzanian landgrab while a sitting member of the Board of Regents. The Campaign and Ethics Disclosure Board threw out the complaint after taking a limited, narrow ruling of the law rather than having the courage to stand up to a powerful interest like Rastetter with a broader and more inclusive view of state ethics law.
“There’s a lot more to a conflict of interest than whether or not you took a formal vote,” Mortice said.