The governor’s chief of staff denies an accusation from a state official that there was any “extortion” about his job or his salary.

Christopher Godfrey, the state workers compensation commissioner, says he was asked to resign after the election in November and Godfrey says he was told this past Monday that if he failed to resign, his pay would be cut.  Branstad chief of staff Jeff Boeyink disputes that. 

“There were no threats. There were no discussions of any quid pro quos. This was a situation where Mr. Godfrey made a decision not to resign and we made a decision to reduce his salary,” Boeyink says. “It’s as simple as that and for him to characterize it as something more than that would simply be inaccurate.”

According to Boeyink, Godfrey was called into a meeting that lasted less than five minutes and, when the commissioner was asked to reconsider and resign — and failed to do so, Boeyink says Godfrey was told his pay would be cut.

“This was a professional conversation between professionals and we had a disagreement about whether he should be serving in this position,” Boeyink says, “and for him to use language like ‘extortion’ is inappropriate.”

Branstad’s communications chief says the governor disagrees with the way the workers compensation commissioner is handling the office.

Shortly after Branstad’s 2010 election victory, he asked for the resignations of top officials in the Culver administration, a traditional move when there’s a new governor taking over.  Godfrey refused to submit a letter of resignation, and Boeyink says the governor has a right to have someone he wants in this job.

“Normally when somebody is serving in a position and they understand that the governor is no longer wishing them to serve, most of them are willing to step down,” Boeyink says.

The governor asked for letters of resignation from the head of the Iowa Lottery, the state insurance commissioner and the top manager of the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System, but after meeting personally with all three of those Culver administration officials, Branstad decided to keep them on his team.