Frank Kloucek’s House Bill would have eliminated conflicts of interest with University Presidents serving on corporate boards. It failed in committee yesterday, but I have been having trouble finding a story about it in the SD MSM (anybody have links?) The only news org that covered it was SDPTV last night on Statehouse. I can’t even remember the vote, but I do know it failed pretty heavily. This is disappointing, but not surprising, our legislature always puts corporations first and citizens second, business as usual as far as I am concerned. (Below is an overview of the bill by Cory and Madville Times).
SDSU President David Chicoine caused a fuss last spring when he accepted a high-paying position on Monsanto’s corporate board. Senator Frank Kloucek (D-19/Scotland) promised to lead a discussion of this seeming conflict of interest on the floor of the Legislature.
Senator Kloucek has his chance now with House Bill 1116, which would restrict Dr. Chicoine and any other executive officer of any Regental institution making over $100,000 from almost any serious moonlighting. If HB 1116 passes, university execs could only take outside jobs that pay less than $10,000 a year. (Dr. Chicoine’s total annual salary and benefits from Monsanto: $400,000.)
Now before you chuckling Republicans start cranking up the ad hominem against Senator Kloucek, take a look at HB 1116’s sponsor list. Primary sponsors are Republican Rep. Jacqueline Sly (33/Rapid City) and Democrat Senator Ryan Maher (28/Isabel). Our man Frank has his name on the bill, right next to GOP colleague Senator Gene Abdallah (10/Sioux Falls). Throw in a couple more West River conservatives like Reps. Brunner and Kopp, and Sen. Kloucek has some bipartisan backing for a really interesting discussion of conflict of interest in the highest offices of the Regental system.
Two of my favorite state reps, Kloucek and Hunhoff are turning up the heat on the appointment of Chicoine to Monsanto’s board;
“There’s a certain unease,” Hunhoff said. “We take great pride in trying to be different here in South Dakota. Now’s the time to talk about it, before it becomes engrained in our culture.”
Not only talk about it, but end this practice.
State Sen. Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, has railed against it, saying it could create a conflict of interest if the company does business directly or indirectly with the university.
And Chicoine’s appointment is the perfect example of why it’s a bad idea, Kloucek said, because Monsanto has several projects on SDSU’s campus.
“It looks like they’re bribing them,” he said. Even if a university president vows to abstain from certain votes, they’re “still going to have every appearance of impropriety.”
Kloucek is drafting a bill for the upcoming legislative session and researching other states he says have regulations on public servants serving on boards for compensation.
They are bribing us. Agricultural universities should be able to do research and studies WITHOUT the influence of corporations. What’s stopping Monsanto from influencing positive results when their money is buying the beakers in the lab? Not a damn thing.
Hunhoff said any controversy about Monsanto as a company is not the point.
“It shouldn’t be an issue of one president or one company.”
I agree 100% with Bernie’s statement. If the law changes, it should affect all outside influence on state universities. If a private university wants to take Monsanto under their arm, good for them. But I don’t want my tax dollars intertwined with a corrupt corporation, whoever they are. A publicly funded university should remain that way.
Bravo to Frank and Bernie for making a stand, I hope they follow through.
From my email box;
Letter & Resolution
Sent to: Mr. Terry Baloun, President - South Dakota Board of Regents
The South Dakota Peace and Justice Center is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by faith leaders from throughout South Dakota. We are led by a 15-member Board of Directors, with our work driven by advocacy for the disenfranchised, environmental sustainability, justice system reform, and a vision for a more just and peaceful world.
We sent the resolution below, passed by our Board of Directors to both the Board of Regents and to Dr. Chicoine’s office, because we are deeply concerned about the situation involving the President of South Dakota State University, Dr. David Chicoine.
We believe, as stated in the resolution copied below, that Dr. Chicoine presents a conflict of interest when serving on the Board of Directors of a company like Monsanto.
Please review the situation, and if you are able, contact the Board of Regents, and Dr. Chicoine. Urge that a choice be made between his paid position with the state of South Dakota and his paid position on the Board of Directors for Monsanto.
For further research, cut and paste the following links into your web browser: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/Monsantovsusfarmersreport.cfm
Sincerely, Richard Iron Cloud - Board President
RE South Dakota State University and Monsanto
South Dakota Peace and Justice Center Board Resolution
WHEREAS, South Dakota State University was founded as a land grant college, with a specific mission to educate the farm community and to provide scientific expertise to production agriculture, and
WHEREAS, Dr. David Chicoine is employed as President of South Dakota State University with an annual salary of $300,000 plus benefits, and
WHEREAS, Dr. Chicoine has now been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Monsanto corporation, in which capacity he is receiving substantial additional compensation, and
WHEREAS, Monsanto sells and actively promotes agricultural chemicals and genetically modified crops, with a detrimental impact on the natural environment, on neighboring organic farmers, and on genetic biodiversity, and
WHEREAS, Dr. Chicoine’s dual role creates a clear conflict of interest and also has ominous implications for academic freedom within the academic community, possibly including a chilling effect on professors and researchers at SDSU who might wish to study the impact of Monsanto’s products and sales practices on the future of South Dakota’s farm and ranch community, and
WHEREAS, the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center is a statewide organization of almost 1,000 South Dakota households, institutions, and congregations, which is dedicated to protecting family farmers and ranchers from corporate agriculture and to promoting a healthy environment,
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved, that the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center does hereby call upon the South Dakota Board of Regents to require Dr. David Chicoine to choose between his role as President of South Dakota State University and his service on the Board of Directors of Monsanto, since it is a clear conflict of interest for him to remain in both positions.
Unanimously passed by the Board of Directors of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center on July 25, 2009, Richard Iron Cloud, President
Imagine that, Terry Baloun is involved (Event Center Task Force Member)
This letter says it all;
There are no benefits to a land-grant university from sharing its president with a multi-national corporation. Monsanto is in the business of making money. It pulled down a profit of almost $1 billion in 2008. It is eager for more and has no boundaries or allegiances to anyone other than shareholders.
A university is in the business of education and research. It should be an incubator of ideas and visions and should be free to entertain ways to make residents more independent from corporations.
Monsanto and other biotechnological corporations have been restricting university scientists from researching and publishing information on patented crops (see the Feb.
20 issue of the New York Times). A land-grant university cannot serve its mandate of freely disseminating information to farmers and other residents with a president who wears a Monsanto logo.
Monsanto is working on its image after a decade of bad press from hauling farmers such as Percy Schmeiser to court for allegedly planting patented seed on the sly. Monsanto is attempting to associate with esteemed institutions in hopes of blurring its achieved image: an ogre.
My biggest complaint is my tax money being intertwined with this corrupt corporation.