Records obtained by the Associated Press showed that a South Korean businessman and his metals company have given $500,000 to an Iowa State University institute named for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin. Mr. Harkin, a Democrat, has pushed for the adoption of dollar coins instead of dollar bills as U.S. currency, a move that could generate millions of dollars in business for the donor’s company. Iowa Republicans have alleged that such donations could represent a conflict of interest, though a spokeswoman for Mr. Harkin said the senator’s actions had not been affected by anyone’s gifts to the university.
The institute, created last year to house Harkin’s papers and research domestic and foreign policy, was embroiled in controversy even before questions about the donations. Harkin is objecting to an order from ISU President Steven Leath that bars agricultural research without approval from the school’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. Harkin backers have called that a restriction on academic freedom and discussed moving the institute to Drake University. The two sides are at an impasse.
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