The wife of a lavishly-paid executive at the central Iowa job training program that’s under investigation says she didn’t think her husband’s pay was out-of-line. Deb Desert Bargman, wife of CIETC Chief Financial Officer John Bargman, is a former accountant for CIETC who told lawmakers Monday that she found out about her husband’s pay when she saw their tax returns, but didn’t think it unusual.
“CIETC has a board of independently elected officials; they had multiple monitorings by (Iowa Workforce Development); they had Department of Labor monitorings; they had three independent audits. Why would I superimpose my judgment on the oversight bodies?” she said.
Mrs. Bargman now works for the State Auditor, and when her husband told her the auditor was investigating CIETC, she approached the auditor the next day. “I had no involvement with anything that the auditor’s office did with the CIETC investigation,” Bargman said. She asked the auditor not to talk with her about the investigation, but the auditor had already taken steps to make sure she did not overhear or see anything related to the investigation.
A former member of the CIETC board also defended the thousands of dollars that the agency funneled to his program for Des Moines’ inner city youth. Ako Abdul-Samad is the founder of “Creative Visions” — a non-profit agency that provides job training and counseling for inner city kids who’re headed for trouble. Abdul-Samad, who recently resigned from his seat on the CIETC board, says he never voted on issues involving his own agency.
“I did not feel that there was any coziness with any of the board members or anyone else. It was strictly a business relationship as a board member,” Abdul-Samad said. “The grants…that Creative Visions received, was received before I even a board member or considered.” Abdul-Samad says he was unaware of the lavish pay earned by top CIETC executives until the State Auditor issued his report in March.
Abdul-Samad is currently a member of the Des Moines School Board and he is running as a Democrat for a seat in the state legislature.