Governor Branstad says he’s earned the two paychecks he’s getting from the State of Iowa and he rejects critics who question whether he’s made that much of a financial sacrifice in leaving a well-paid private sector job and returning as governor. 

In addition to a $130,000 annual salary, Branstad is collecting a $52,000 annual pension for the time he served as a state legislator, as Iowa’s lieutenant governor and as the state’s governor.

“What I earned from the 26 years that I served in public service before, like any other employee, is something that I earned and I never intended to refuse to accept that,” Branstad told reporters this morning.  “Listen, I’ve taken a substantial financial sacrifice to run for public office.  My income is less than half of what it was as president of Des Moines University.”

Branstad was paid over $350,000 a year to head the osteopathic college, a job he left in October of 2009 to run for a fifth term as governor. The Iowa Democratic Party has questioned whether Branstad’s $130,000 salary as governor, his $52,000 pension and other fringe benefits — including a driver, a personal chef, free housing and a housekeeper — add up to something equivalent to his Des Moines University salary.  

“Those people that want to attack me personally, if they think that this is going to change my committment to serve the people of Iowa or to do what we need to do to bring jobs here and reduce the tax burden on Iowa citizens or get our financial house in order, they are wrong,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference. “Personal attacks don’t work.”

Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky says she’s not questioning whether Branstad earned his pension.  Dvorsky says it’s a question of whether Branstad is asking state workers to do as he says, not as he does.

“He talks a great deal about public employees, very harshly and very sternly, about their benefits and their extravagant benefits and I just think…it’s a little bit of hypocrisy,” Dvorsky says.

Branstad has said he’s willing to sign a bill which would stop him from accruing more government pension money for his current term as governor.  In April of last year Jeff Boeyink, who was Branstad’s campaign manager at the time, told reporters Branstad would forego his pension if elected to a fifth term, but last week Boeyink said he misspoke last April and was referring to the additional pension Branstad is scheduled to earn for his fifth term, not the pension Branstad earned for his previous 16 years as governor, his four years as lieutenant governor and his six years as a state legislator.