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April 22nd, 2011

Greiner Raises Questions About Proposed Harkin Institute of Public Policy

State Senator Sandy Greiner is urging the Board of Regents to table a request by Iowa State University to establish a Harkin Institute of Public Policy, which would be within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Up until 24 hours ago, the public and the legislature was unaware that there was even a desire to create a public policy center that would be named after Tom Harkin, the state’s junior United States Senator.

The timing of the surprise initiative in honor of Harkin may not be a coincidence.  The three new members of the Board of Regents that were appointed by Governor Branstad do not receive voting privileges until the after the next meeting.  So, by pushing the proposal through now gives it a better chance at gaining approval.

Greiner also raises ethical concerns about naming a facility after a sitting member of the Senate.  Greiner’s letter reads:

Naming an institute for a sitting elected official at a public institution raises very serious ethical and legal concerns. Senator Harkin is a current elected official and designating a functionary at a state institution bearing his name clearly presents a serious, unfair, and questionable political advantage to an official that seeks political approval and favor from the Iowa electorate.

Further, while the agenda item notes that private donations will be secured for the institute, I have serious questions about the transparency surrounding the donations to support the institute and questions about who will perform that fundraising task.

As you know, other federally elected officials have been embroiled in serious controversy about projects just like this, where prominent Americans and corporations that have business before these same elected officials are leveraged for contributions. The appearance of impropriety is great with a situation like this.

Just like the sweetheart union deal that Culver agreed to while leaving office, this proposal is another Democrat priority that they plan to approve while they have the power to do so.  Senator Greiner should be commended in bringing this to the public’s attention.

Below is the entire Greiner letter.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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