Governor Chet Culver says his conscience is “clear” when it comes to the investigation of donations three Fort Dodge casino backers made to his campaign.  A special prosecutor has been hired to investigate. 

“Our office and our campaign is not the center of this review.  There is an allegation that three individuals made a contribution that was not lawful. That’s the investigation,” Culver says.  “…But our (conscience) is clear. I have 7500 contributors across this state and across the country that have willingly stepped up to support my candidacy.  We expect that every one of those donors follows the rules and if they don’t there will be consequences.”

According to Culver, he has “no control” over those who donate to his campaign and it’s up to contributors to make sure they comply with the rules.  Culver says it’s “not uncommon” for both Democrat and Republican candidates in Iowa to accept campaign donations from those who work in the casino industry.

“Casino interests have contributed to campaigns in this state for a long time,” Culver says, “since Terry Branstad introduced gaming to Iowa.”  Branstad, the four-term Republican governor who signed laws which ushered in horse racing, the state-run lottery and casino-style gaming, is seeking a fifth term this year. 

The state’s Executive Council, including Culver, voted this week to hire a former state attorney general as a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation of the campaign donations that have raised questions.  Culver says the matter now is “out of (his) control” and he has “no idea” when the investigation may be complete.

“Obviously we want this to come to a quick and speedy resolution and we are going to be completely cooperative, as we have been, in terms of any questions that might arise and that we’ve done nothing wrong,” Culver says.  “So things happen in life and in politics and in governing sometimes that are out of your control and you just do the best you can to deal with the facts and the facts are on our side in this case.” 

Attorney General Tom Miller last week said his office would not investigate the matter, citing the “appearance” of a conflict of interest since a former deputy in Miller’s office has taken a leave of absence to serve as Culver’s campaign manager.  Culver argues that staffing change has no bearing on the overall investigation. 

Culver made his comments this morning during taping of this weekend’s edition of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs Friday night at 7:30.