Republican legislative leaders say they should have been notified when a capitol tour guide was suspended after being caught with a four-year-old in an area of the statehouse not open to visitors. Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says they didn’t find out until yesterday — 11 days after the incident and eight days after the tour guide’s boss suspended him. Lamberti says he and other legislative leaders should have been notified February 7th, when the tour guide was placed on “administrative leave.”
“We are the employer,” Lamberti says. “It’s kind of like the C-E-O of a company not knowing when one of their employees has been placed on administrative leave…It is important that we be kept abreast of what is going on.” House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says not only should the Legislative Services Agency notified lawmakers the investigation was in progress, but State Troopers who were handling the case should have, too. “I’ve expressed my concern that we were not informed,” Rants says.
Rants and Lamberti agree with Senate Co-Leader Michael Gronstal that background checks are in order for statehouse employees who have regular contact with children who visit the capitol. “We’re obviously all concerned about the safety of people who come to our capitol,” Lamberti says. “We take this very seriously.”
Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Clarion, says legislators have asked the governor to consider doing background checks of tour guides in other state government buildings, like the State Historical Building. “It’s a good wake-up call for all of us,” Iverson says. “We’re going to have to look at things a little differently.” In addition, Iverson and Lamberti say it may be time to review the practice of having work-release inmates from the state prison in Newton at the statehouse doing things like cleaning, sweeping and clearing snow