The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board today dismissed a conflict of interest complaint filed against a member of an environmental rule-making panel. Members of the group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement believe Brent Rastetter should be removed from the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) because he’s also the owner and president of a confinement construction company.
The ethics board’s executive director and legal counsel is Megan Tooker. “I’m of the opinion that this does not constitute a conflict of interest,” Tooker said. “(Iowa) has numerous boards or commissions that, by statute or practice, encompass individuals who are members of the fields that they regulate or oversee.”
Rastetter was appointed to the EPC in May by Governor Terry Branstad. Iowa CCI claims Rastetter’s business – Quality Ag, Incorporated – has directly benefited from the commission’s decision in June to shelve proposed clean-water regulations. Tooker doesn’t believe that’s the case.
“If a matter specific to one of the commissioners were before the commission, then that commissioner, I believe, should recuse him or herself. But, here we’re talking about matters that have general application,” Tooker said. Iowa CCI member Larry Ginter was furious with the ethics board’s unanimous decision.
“When we continue with this cronyism in this state, we’re going to continue to see our waters polluted, our air polluted and everything else,” Ginter told Radio Iowa. “There’s a climate in this country of getting rid of good regulations that protect the people and it’s shameful.”
Rastetter, a Republican from Ames, holds a seat on the EPC that’s reserved for farmers. Ginter is hoping to find another avenue to remove Rastetter from the commission. “We’re going to take this to the legislature and keep on fighting. We’re not going to take this anymore. It’s ridiculous,” Ginter said.
The ethics board voted 6-0 to dismiss the complaint.