October 31, 2014

Governor says senate should investigate fired staffer’s harassment claims (AUDIO)

Iowa’s governor and lieutenant governor both say the executive branch has no role in investigating a fired Senate Republican staffer’s allegations of sexual harassment in her Capitol workplace.

Kirsten Anderson — fired Friday from her job as communications director for Iowa Senate Republicans — went on a Des Moines TV station Sunday morning to charge that women in her office were “objectified…and ridiculed” by legislators and other male staff. Governor Terry Branstad said this morning her allegations “should be investigated by the senate.”

“It’s a separate branch of government, so I think they have the right procedures in place and I think they should investigate and determine whether or not…these allegations are true or not,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference.

Anderson began working in the Iowa Senate in 2008, a year before Kim Reynolds — Iowa’s current lieutenant governor — was elected to the senate.

“I served in the Iowa Senate for two years, in ’09 and ’10. I don’t currently serve in the Iowa Senate,” Reynolds said during this morning’s news conference. “I believe that we need to ensure that we have a safe and secure environment in which to work in. This is a legislative matter and I have confidence that the senate will address the situation in a timely manner.”

Reynolds was asked by a reporter if she “experienced any evidence” of the kind of hostile work environment Anderson described during her television interview.

“When I was in the senate, there were 18 members in the senate caucus. I was very involved and engaged in our caucus, working with the team and I didn’t experience any, no,” Reynolds replied.

“Our caucus” is a reference to the group of Republicans in the Iowa Senate.

The chief of staff for Senate Republicans said Sunday that Anderson — the staffer fired on Friday — was dismissed because of “substandard work performance” that had been documented over the past several months.

AUDIO of Branstad and Reynolds speaking at the governor’s weekly news conference, 28:14