An activist Iowa watchdog group will get a chance on Thursday to back up their ethics complaint against a member of the Iowa Board of Regents.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, or CCI, claims Bruce Rastetter abused his power as regent in pursuing a land deal in Africa through a partnership between Iowa State University and his company, Agrisol Energy.
The group, which has staged protests outside the regents office in Urbandale and was escorted out of a board meeting in Cedar Falls this month, has a 10-minute slot on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board agenda on Thursday to discuss its complaint. The complaint is identified on the agenda as "conflict of interest and alleged failure to file a true personal financial disclosure statement."
Rastetter and the regents office have not returned a message seeking comment today. They have previously said they will withhold addressing the matter until after it runs its course through the ethics board.
Today, CCI officials released a list of five items that they believe the ethics board must consider in examining the Rastetter complaint.
1) A late, untimely conflict of interest disclosure filed with the Iowa Board of Regents on June 17, 2011;
2) A $13,379.82 check written May 18, 2011 from Rastetter’s business account to ISU officials for a flight to Tanzania;
3) Email exchanges between Rastetter and ISU Associate Dean David Acker discussing joint AgriSol/ISU funding agreements throughout May, June, and July 2011;
4) A potentially fraudulent and falsified financial disclosure form submitted to the board by Rastetter on April 24, 2012; and
5) Rastetter’s alleged recusal from public discussions between AgriSol/ISU on September 13, 2011 followed by a January 22, 2012 op-ed by Rastetter placed in the Des Moines Register.
Go to the CCI website for further explanation, including 25 questions pertaining to these issues.
After the CCI makes its presentation, the ethics board will then go into closed session to discuss the Rastetter matter, and ethics complaints filed against others. The ethics board will likely decide whether to dismiss the complaint or pursue an investigation, but it is not likely to make findings.
Rastetter is accused of conflict of interest when his company, AgriSol Energy, worked with Iowa State University on a deal to develop land in Tanzania into a grain and livestock operation. The land had been home to 160,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, but the Tanzanian government has been relocating them.
Rastetter has refuted the claims saying they wouldn't have built where there were refugees.
“Bruce is passionate about lifting people out of hunger and poverty, which is the goal of the AgriSol project in Tanzania,” Rastetter spokesman Joe Murphy told the Gazette earlier this month.