The former Chief Operating Officer of the central Iowa jobs training program admitted to lawmakers Wednesday that the large salary and bonuses paid him were “unreasonable.”
Former CIETC C-O-O John Bargman was questioned by Dubuque Senator Mike Connolly about a last minute grant CIETc got from the state that was primarily used to provide bonuses to executives. Connolly asked Bargman if the bonuses were reasonable, and Bargman said he had no response. Connolly then said, “How do you think Iowans are going to feel if you don’t respond to that. Can’t you just up and say it, that was out of line, was that greedy? Was that unreasonable.” Bargman then answered yes, and Connolly responded, “I think so too.”
Bargman’s pay totaled 360-thousand dollars last year. Bargman says he didn’t set his salary, C-E-O Ramona Cunningham did. Bargman says Cunningham set the salary levels based on his duties. Bargman says Cunningham also set his bonuses. He says Cunningham set the percentage of bonuses. Connolly asked Bargman if he discussed the amounts with Cunningham, and Bargman says the only discussion he had was “whether or not there were monies available to pay those.”
Connolly, a democrat, says the bonuses don’t look good. Connolly says, “It really looks like a scam to siphon off money here. Now maybe a court of law will say that isn’t so. But I think it really looks that way, or appears that way.” Bargman’s attorney objected to Connolly’s statements, and reiterated that his client did not set his own salary, but simply accepted what was approved by CIETC’s C-E-O and board of directors.
Connolly accused Bargman of passing the buck. He says it look like an awful lot of times that Bargman said yes to bonuses, and cited a bonus of 18-thousand in April 2nd and April 26th and May 19th another 18-thousand. Connolly said, “A lot of Iowans would like to have that job.”
Legislators questioned Bargman briefly about the accounting work his wife did for CIETC, but ran out of time and asked him to come back next week for more questioning.