The Iowa Attorney General says a Des Moines City Councilman who led the board that oversaw a scandal plagued central Iowa job training program has resigned just as the A-G’s office was to start the process to have him removed from office.
Attorney General spokesperson, Bob Brammer says the decision to seek the removal of councilman Archie Brooks was made along with Polk County Attorney John Sarcone.
Brammer says they ordinarily would not have taken the removal action while the criminal investigation of the case was till going on. But, Brammer says they believe the federal criminal investigation could run on for some time and the public’s confidence in the government was being undermined.
Brammer says the decision to remove Brooks was made last week. Brammer says they contacted Brooks’ attorney and said they would start the removal action based on “maladministration of office.” Brammer says Brooks attorney has “some argument as to why that shouldn’t happen,” but he says the Attorney General and County Attorney still decided to proceed.
Brooks’ resignation today makes the action moot. Brammer says the removal request would have been made to a district court judge. Brammer says the court conducts a hearing on the matter within 10 to 20 days of the request for action. Brammer says the issue needs to be proved to the judge to get the removal of the public official. Brammer says there are several things that can be grounds for removal, from the maladministration in this case, to extortion or corruption.
The 57-year-old Brooks came under fire after it was determined the executive director of the Central Iowa Employment and Job Training Consortium was pulling in a six-figure salary and other administrators were also making large salaries and bonuses. Brooks testified before a legislative committee in March and said he never kept a running tally of salary and bonuses to determine the total compensation for the C-E-O.
“In the voluntary position I was in, I did not do the due diligence that I should have. I have admitted that and I’m, you know, ashamed of that,” Brooks says. “But that happened. You have trust in staff. You proceed on that.” Brooks says he raised concerns at board meetings in July and October about the amount of money being spent on salaries, but didn’t find out what a state audit did — that Ramona Cunningham was making 360-thousand dollars.
“There was never a running total,” Brooks says. “I expressed my concern to her when I did find out the total that that was an exorbitant number.” Brooks says the board of local elected officials from the eight central Iowa counties the oversaw the program were too complacent. “Basically, my biggest frustration was that during the monthly meetings that we would show up at 12, they would have a half-hour lunch and then we’d have a meeting that maybe would last 10 to 15 minutes,” Brooks says. “(There was a) lack of participation or discussion or involvement by all of the board.”
Brooks also admitted that he had gone on one date with Ramona Cunningham several years ago when he had separated from his wife. Brooks had up to now refused to resign even in the face of a petition drive started by a former Des Moines city councilmember. Brammer said he did not know if the A-G is considering action against any of the other officials involved in the CITEC scandal.