The director for the Iowa Department on Aging has resigned amid controversy over the way he handled the agency’s ombudsman. Reports say John McCalley told the long-term care ombudsman she could not express an opinion on state or federal legislation without the approval of the governor’s office — which would violate federal law.

A spokesman for the Governor, James Flansburg, said Monday that McCalley was not asked to resign. Flansburg says McCalley did resign on his own. McCalley’s resignation letter said “Clearly my presence has become a distraction from the priority of providing older Iowans with the best possible supports, services and protections.” Flansburg says the governor has appointed a former Democrat legislator to take over for now.

Flansburg says former state representative Ro Foege will serve as the interim director. He says Foege has a lot of experience in state government and his family has long history of being advocates for senior citizens. Flansburg says the governor expects a smooth transition.

“Ro is extraordinarily bright and on top of it, he is very familiar with this department already, and as he says, he is a senior citizen himself and so he has a vested interest in making sure everything moves very smoothly here,” Flansburg said. Foege is 71-years old and a social worker who was co-chairman of the legislature’s health and human services appropriations subcommittee.

Flansburg says he is not sure of the plans for finding a permanent replacement for McCalley. The governor recently issued an executive order that moved the ombudsman office out of the Department on Aging in response to the criticism over the position.

See McCalley’s  resignation letter here: McCaulley resignation letter