State troopers were standing guard at dumpsters outside the Iowa Workforce Development agency’s building this morning after the secretary of the fired deputy director tried to toss papers and documents.
Governor Vilsack fired deputy director Jane Barto and her boss late Wednesday, and at six o’clock this morning, an anonymous caller alerted the state auditor’s office about the document dump.
Gene Meyer, the director the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, says five state troopers and five DCI agents were on the scene this morning. “We have seized all of those records as well as computers at Iowa Workforce Development,” Meyer says. “We’re quite confident that no records were shredded. They were merely dumped in a dumpster and they’re now under our control.”
The newly-appointed director of the Iowa Workforce Development agency says he believes secretary Laurie Rieck was acting alone and was not throwing away records because her fired boss told her to. “I asked her what she was doing,” Iowa Workforce Development director Dave Neil says. “She said that she couldn’t sleep and she came in to throw away old records.”
Rieck has been placed on “investigative” leave, and Neil has placed two other agency administrators on leave in connection with the scandal revolving around a central Iowa job training program. The state agency oversaw the program, but it was run by a board of elected officials from seven central Iowa counties and financed with federal taxdollars.
Meyer, the DCI chief, says it’s too early to say whether the secretary committed a crime this morning. “We’ll certainly be looking into what her motives were,” Meyer says. “There are laws that regulate the destruction of public documents.”
Governor Vilsack announced at six o’clock last night that he had fired the top two officials in the Workforce Development agency, but state officials did not immediately move to secure their offices. Mollie Anderson is director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, the agency in charge of personnel matters and Anderson says her agency has a “process” that ensures fired employees do not have access to their computers, but the firing occured late yesterday and Anderson they had decided to go in to secure the computers at 7:30 this morning.
Law enforcement is now guarding the two fired employees’ offices. The DCI’s director says there will be two state-level investigations — one to determine if any crime was committed and another to determine if any employees breached office protocol. “There’s no question here that the public’s trust has been violated in this situation,” Meyer says. “Whether or not there’s been any violation of criminal law has yet to be determined.”
Neil expects federal investigators from the Department of Labor to arrive on the scene tomorrow (Friday). “It’s been a difficult week for the employees of Iowa Workforce Development,” Neil says. “We need to continue to provide our services for the people that need them and we will do everything within our power to make sure that that happens.”
You may listen to the news conference featuring the comments of Meyer, Neil and Anderson by clicking on the mp3 link below.