When the institute was created, the university's then-president, Greg Geoffroy, said Harkin "would really have no input" and that the institute "must be above that."
Gold declined comment, but Harkin spokeswoman Kate Cyrul Frischmann said Harkin's campaign doesn't raise money for the institute and that the list sent by Gold "is not a Harkin donor list." She said Harkin campaign staff played no role in its creation, saying it was assembled by someone she wouldn't identify who searched online for "active Iowa foundations and prominent individuals."
ISU Foundation spokeswoman Karen Simon said it has not solicited donations from anyone on the list. She said it was forwarded to Miles Lackey, ISU President Steven Leath's chief of staff, for his reference only.
Under congressional ethics rules governing honorary institutes, Harkin could raise funds for the institute, even from companies regulated by the powerful committee he chairs, as long as he doesn't solicit registered lobbyists or foreign agents.
The institute's largest donors are South Korean businessman Jin Roy Ryu and his Cedar Rapids-based company, PMX Industries, which would profit from Harkin's proposal to replace the $1 bill with a coin. Harkin said he did not ask for those donations or any others from lobbyists or "anyone seeking or receiving official action from me as a senator."
The institute's fundraising has slowed amid a dispute over the scope of research it will conduct. Harkin and his wife, Ruth, a regent, pressured Leath to rescind an order limiting its ability to research agriculture, which they see as central to Harkin's legacy.
Leath initially said the institute could research agricultural issues relating to Harkin's papers but all other research should be led by ISU's prominent Center for Agricultural and Rural Development to avoid duplication.
But the Harkins called it a restriction on academic freedom and warned he wouldn't donate his papers if it stood. Leath withdrew the rule last month, but directed the institute to coordinate research with other centers as necessary. It's still unclear whether the Harkins or the institute's advisory board will accept that change.