Regents member accused of ethics violation

Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter

Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter

Katelynn Mccollough

Updated June 21, 3:59 p.m.

Bruce Rastetter has not yet commented on the ethics complaint filed by the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement on Tuesday, June 19. 

Joe Murphy, director of public affairs for AgriSol Energy, released a statement concerning the complaint.

“We welcome this type of review and we will cooperate fully. Bruce operates with the highest degree of integrity and has long been an advocate for education and agriculture. He also has a strong tradition of providing support and gifts to the Regent institutions. At the same time, Bruce has a deep commitment to helping lift people out of poverty by adopting sustainable agricultural practices.”

Check back for further updates as details emerge.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed an ethics complaint against Iowa Board of Regents member Bruce Rastetter on Tuesday.

According to the complaint filed by Iowa CCI with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, Rastetter, “abused his role as a regent and public servant to seek a partnership between his company, AgriSol Energy, and Iowa State University — a regents institution — for a project in Tanzania that could have netted him millions of dollars in profits while forcibly evicting thousands of refugees from their land.”

Iowa CCI states that this is a conflict of interest in the complaint. Rastetter is the managing director of AgriSol Energy and the president pro tem of the Board of Regents.

According to the complaint, Rastetter and other AgriSol investors stood “to make as much as $300 million a year from the forcible eviction of subsistence farmers from refugee camps in Tanzania, leasing the newly vacant land from the government at 25 cents an acre, and exporting the vertically integrated, industrial model of corporate agribusiness from Iowa to Tanzania — all duty and tax free.”

In February, Iowa State stopped advising AgriSol on the project.

The state ethics board will review the complaint at a meeting in August. A date for this meeting has not yet been set.