An ethics complaint filed against a member of the Iowa Board of Regents was dismissed Thursday. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint filed against Bruce Rastetter by the group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI).
CCI member Ross Grooters of Pleasant Hill spoke with Radio Iowa following the ethics board’s meeting in Des Moines. “The Iowa ethics board made the wrong decision – a decision that puts them squarely on the side of bad government of, by and for the corporations,” Grooters said.
Iowa CCI filed the ethics complaint in June, claiming Rastetter – a prominent Republican businessman – used his position on the Board of Regents to advance a business deal in Tanzania involving Iowa State University and his agribusiness company, AgriSol Energy. The government watchdog group also alleged Rastetter misrepresented himself on financial disclosure forms.
On Monday, Rastetter filed an amended financial disclosure statement. State ethic regulators said the CCI complaints were not legally sufficient. Grooters disagrees. “The facts show that time and time again, Bruce Rastetter has done just enough after getting caught and exposed to try and put himself in a good light and we’re not buying it,” Grooters said.
Rastetter was appointed to the Iowa Board of Regents by Republican Governor Terry Branstad last year. Rastetter, who was the top donor to Branstad’s election campaign in 2010, recused himself from the Tanzania project about four months after becoming a regent. Grooters believes the six-members of the ethics board took a “narrow view” of state rules related to the conduct of public officials.
“We’re talking about a very powerful person here, who is entrenched in our government,” Grooters said. “I think it almost fell to them to protect Bruce Rastetter and their way of doing that was trying to find an interpretation of rule law.” Joe Murphy, a spokesman for Rastetter, spoke with reporters after the ethics board meeting.
“Bruce is really looking forward to getting back to work on the important issues that are facing the (Iowa Board of Regents),” Murphy said. “No public official should go through this process, and the type of tactics and antics that this group displayed was unfortunate, but it won’t derail the good work that Bruce and other board and others will continue to do.”
Rastetter also issue a written statement: “With this matter now behind me, I can focus my efforts on advocating on behalf of Iowa’s outstanding universities and, most importantly, Iowa’s students.”