Attorney General Tom Miller has issued a written statement, defending his advice to Governor Culver on a personnel issue.
According to a statement from Governor Culver, he wanted to fire Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator Lynn Walding in late 2008 because of spending and personnel issues. Culver says he was told by the attorney general there was “not a sufficient legal basis” for Walding’s firing.
The attorney general is now commenting, saying Walding wasn’t like other agency leaders in state government. Walding was appointed to a fixed term of four years and could only be removed from office if the state’s executive council concluded Walding was guilty of malfeasance. The attorney general says he and his staff are reviewing the auditor’s report “to determine whether any further action is warranted.”
Walding was appointed to the job in 2006 by former Governor Tom Vilsack and Governor Culver did not reappoint him in April. The audit report questions a number of purchases Walding approved, like $23,000 worth of artwork, as well as the rapid promotion of an intern to the job of operations manager.
Read the attorney general’s written statement:
Statement Regarding the Alcoholic Beverages Division of the Iowa Department of Commerce Audit
The Office of Attorney General received a report from the Auditor of State on Thursday afternoon regarding internal controls, compliance issues and spending practices within certain divisions of the Iowa Department of Commerce prior to June 30, 2008.
In late October, 2008, the Governor’s Office contacted the Iowa Attorney General’s Office about personnel issues within the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (IABD) of the Iowa Department of Commerce. In early November, 2008, this office was provided a copy of a five-page memo from the Department of Management summarizing its review of the financial management of the Liquor Control Fund and expenditures by the Division.
The IABD Administrator is appointed by the Governor. Unlike many Executive Branch department heads and senior staff members which serve at the pleasure of the Governor, the IABD Administrator is appointed for a fixed term of four years. Removal from office is subject to Iowa Code Chapter 66. “Appointive state officers” may be removed from office by a majority vote of the Executive Council for grounds as set out in the Iowa Code.
While internal legal advice from this office is confidential, information provided to this office at that time did not appear to support removal of the IABD Administrator by the Executive Council. Issues concerning financial management and expenditures by the Division have been pending with the State Auditor since that time.
The Office of Attorney General will review the auditor’s report to help determine whether any further action is warranted.