Ethics board to meet concerning Rastetter and land deals in Tanzania

Dan Mackenzie

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the group that has been central in promoting the issues surrounding Bruce Rastetter and land deals in Tanzania, is set to announce a meeting with the state ethics and campaign disclosure board regarding Bruce Rastetter next month.

The petition against Rastetter will get an official hearing at noon on Aug 23. David Goodner, community organizer for Iowa Citizens, said the meeting is just the first step.

“This meeting will decide whether to throw the case out or if we get a full investigation,” Goodner said. 

Goodner also said Iowa Citizens has more organizations joining their fight to remove Rastetter from his post at the Iowa Board of Regents.

Food and Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group for social justice based in Washington, is joining the petition demanding Gov. Terry Branstad remove Rastetter from his position. The Iowa branch of the group decided to officially join the complaint after learning about the issue and talking with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

Matt Ohloff, Iowa-based organizer for Food and Water Watch, said there were about 50 people at a town-hall style meeting in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Tuesday evening to discuss the issue.

“The crowd was very supportive of what we had to say,” Ohloff said. 

Ohloff said many of those in attendance in Cedar Falls were concerned about budget cuts at the University of Northern Iowa, but they were also concerned about the board of regents as a whole.

“Especially with keeping Branstad in line,” he said.

Goodner said Iowa Citizens feels a certain affirmation by having Food and Water join the cause.

“It reaffirms our position that [Rastetter] had a clear conflict of interest, … and that’s why we are ultimately demanding a resignation,” Goodner said. 

Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, is also in the state this week attending meetings in Cedar Falls, Ames and Iowa City.

“With an issue like this, we are really interested how the research agenda at a school like Iowa State is set. … Land-grant institutions are supposed to research for public benefit, and we think they are straying from that goal,” she said. 

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has also been bringing the issues directly to those with power. Last Saturday, the group had their statewide convention, after which they bused people out to protest at the homes of Jeff Boeyink and David Roederer, both members of Branstad’s staff.

“The point is that we are confronting people about the issue,” Goodner said.

Iowa Citizens and Food and Water Watch will be continuing their meetings this week. The groups will be in Iowa City on Wednesday and Ames on Thursday.