Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver is proposing a long list of new ethics guidelines for those who work in the executive branch of state government, including disclosure of private investments and an end to big bonuses for top state managers.
Culver says it’s an attempt to respond to the scandal surrounding a central Iowa job training program where managers made lavish, six-figure salaies. “Iowa’s next governor must restore the faith in government that CIETC took away,” Culver says. “This is not Washington, D.C. There must be a zero tolerance policy for corruption at any level in state government.”
It’s also an attempt by Culver to tar his Republican opponent, Congressman Jim Nussle, with some of the scandals in Washington — such as the conviction of a Republican lobbyist who’s admitted to bribing some members of congress. “I think there are some real differnces in this race. I’ve been working in this state, living in this state. I have Iowa experience. I’m fighting for Iowa values. My opponent has been a part of the culture of corruption in Washington, D.C. He’s been there for 16 years. He’s been a part of the large debts and the deficits and the cronyism and corruption,” Culver says. “I think Iowa are tired of it. I think Americans are fed up.”
Culver says if elected, he’ll require all top managers in the state executive branch as well as people who serve on state boards and commissions to disclose their private investments to ensure there’s no conflict of interest. Culver also proposes new criminal penalties for those caught stealing from the state and new limits on former state employees who leave state government to go into the lobbying profession.
Culver also plans to ban all gifts to executive branch employees, including gifts from other states or countries to him if he’s elected governor. “My plan is an Iowa solution, not a Washington solution, that goes a long way toward protecting the traditions in our state of integrity and accountability that has been a hallmark in our state of open and clean government,” Culver says.
Culver maintains his proposals are in no way an indictment of current Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s management. “It’s an effort to put CIETC behind us and move forward and take the steps necessary to prevent a CIETC happening again,” Culver says. “Governor Vilsack acted swiftly and decisively. He fired a number of top employees at CIETC. He called for a complete and thorough investigation. He appointed a new director. He has taken the steps necessary and he is also conducting his own review and more will be coming out on that.”
Vilsack, by the way, did not fire employees at CIETC. Vilsack asked the two top managers in the Iowa Workforce Development agency to resign. The top three CIETC managers were fired by a board of directors made up of officials from central Iowa counties who were to oversee the job training agency.
Nussle’s campaign issued a statement this (Tuesday) morning, declaring that Nussle also would forbid “crony bonuses” in state government. Governor Vilsack handed out thousands of dollars worth of bonuses to his department heads. Nussle calls those “excessive” and “deceptive.” Nussle cited the nearly $35,000 bonus paid to Department of Corrections director Gary Maynard, who Nussle says showed a “lack of effective leadership (that) led to the escape of violent felons at Fort Madison and put Iowans’ safety at risk.”
Nussle calls the CIETC scandal a “greed scheme” and said “Iowans have had enough of these scandalous dramas and demand these crony bonuses be stopped once and for all.” Earlier this spring Nussle proposed an inspector general for state government to investigate allegations of government wrong-doing. Nussle also proposed new protections for so-called “whistleblowers” who report such abuses.