State Auditor Dave Vaudt has fired an employee who’s married to the former chief financial officer of a central Iowa job training agency where top managers were paid “lavish” salaries and bonuses.
Deb Dessert Bargman is the wife of John Bargman, the former CFO at the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium (CIETC). She’s worked as a trainer in the human resources department in the state auditor’s office. But this week it was revealed that when she had “moonlighted” at CIETC, setting up a tracking system that made it nearly impossible to figure out how the bonuses were being paid at the agency.
State Auditor Vaudt’s chief of staff says the auditor told Mrs. Bargman on August 14th that she would be fired — if she didn’t resign first. On Wednesday, August 23, the auditor fired her.
In mid-June, Mrs. Bargman testified before the Legislative Oversight Committee. She said she didn’t think her husband’s pay was out of line. In addition, Mrs. Bargman told lawmakers she found out about her husband’s pay when she saw their tax returns, but didn’t think it was unusual.
Earlier this week, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal called on Vaudt to fire Mrs. Bargman. “If the State Auditor is truly interested in seeking accountability, why hasn’t he done anything about Deb Dessert Bargman?” Gronstal said in a news release. “Her actions were a clear conflict of interest because she was aware of her husband’s exorbitant salary at the same time she was supposed to be acting as a watchdog for Iowa taxpayers.”
Gronstal said Mrs. Bargman had an obligation to the State of Iowa and the Auditor of Iowa, for whom she worked, to alert state officials to the excessive nature of the payments at CIETC, including excessive salaries, consultant fees to board members, and expenditures on credit cards. Gronstal also suggested it would be a good idea to forbid employees in the auditor’s office from “moonlighting” for CIETC or similar entities that may be subject to state audits.
The State Auditor is currently in a meeting and will talk with Radio Iowa later this afternoon about his decision to fire Mrs. Bargman.