Rastetter to have ethics hearing

Dan Mackenzie

Bruce Rastetter, president pro-tem of the Iowa Board of Regents will have a hearing before the Iowa Ethics Board on Thursday, Aug. 24. The hearing was prompted by a complaint from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a social justice group based in Des Moines.

Iowa CCI has said Rastetter did not fully disclose a conflict of interest involving his company, AgriSol, and Iowa State, prior to being sworn in as a member of the Board of Regents. Rastetter did include the deal in his initial paperwork, but the group maintains that he did not do so in full. They claim Rastetter used his position as a Regent member to secure Iowa State’s involvement in the project.

The conflict surrounds a deal Rastetter’s company was setting up in Tanzania to develop land for large-scale agricultural development. The idea was that the underused land would be made to be as productive as it is in Iowa.

Iowa State’s proposed role at the time would have been to provide education and outreach to local farmers, just like in Iowa and similar programs already in place in Uganda and Kenya.

Iowa State backed out of the deal in February 2012 as the controversy began to grow. They have said numerous times they wished to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The hearing will take place at noon Thursday at the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board’s headquarters in Des Moines.