Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack is angrily attacking Senate Republicans for refusing to confirm his nominee for state industrial commissioner. Attorney Chris Godfrey of Sioux City has been serving as interim commissioner since January, but not enough Senate Republicans will vote to let him get the job permanently.
“You cannot say that he’s not qualified. He’s devoted his professional life to workers compensation. There’s probably nobody in the state of Iowa who knows it better than he does,” Vilsack says. “You can’t say that he’s not capable of doing the job because he’s done the job and he’s done an exemplary job for the past four months.”
Vilsack says the previous industrial commissioner who served in the job for 19 years and was appointed by Republican Governor Terry Branstad even endorsed Godfrey for the job. “Nobody can say with a straight face that this guy is not qualified,” Vilsack says. Godfrey has been active in Democratic party politics, voting in party primaries and contributing to various candidates and Vilsack accuses Republicans of playing partisan politics.
“It seems to me that what is happening here and unfortunately what is happening here is that Washington-style politics have moved now to our (state) capitol,” Vilsack says. “It is disappointing and it is certainly not in the best interests of the people of our state.”
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion rejects Vilsack’s charge that the
G-O-P is playing “Washington-style” politics. “He’s been there a lot more time than I have the last few weeks,” Lundby says. “He might know what it is.” Lundby says Republicans have been warning Vilsack for weeks that members of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry had big concerns about Godfrey. “There (were) a lot of problems from the very beginning…the more information, the more phone calls we had, it just did not go away,” Lundby says.
Lundby says businesspeople “were worried” that Godfrey had won too many lawsuits that went against companies and for employees seeking workers compensation benefits. Godfrey withdrew his nomination and Vilsack plans to reappoint him to the job, which he will keep until he finds employment elsewhere. By law, Godfrey cannot practice workers compensation law in Iowa for two years after he leaves the post of industrial commissioner, even if it’s temporary and not a permanent job.