Governor Culver rejects the idea there was anything wrong with having his staff solicit $5000 sponsorships from health care companies to bankroll a health care forum. Iowa is hosting a regional forum for the Obama administration on Monday and White House officials overruled Culver’s plan to have corporate sponsorships defray the $40,000 cost of the event.
"It is very common when a state or local government has a conference of any kind to seek sponsors — especially during a tough economic time when there’s not much money," Culver says.
The White House has agreed to pay half the costs of staging the event and Culver says he and his staff will try to scrape up some state funds from somewhere to pay the rest.
Likely 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats suggests Culver was enforcing a "pay to sit" plan for health care groups that want to send representatives to Monday’s event. Vander Plaats said that was right out of the "playbook" of indicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
"It’s really much to do about nothing," Culver says.
The governor says there’s nothing unusual about seeking corporate sponsorships and striking public-private partnerships to try to save taxpayer dollars.