State Senator Jack Hatch — the Democratic candidate for governor — is calling for an investigation of the firing practices of Republican Terry Branstad’s administration. The Des Moines Register has interviewed state workers who say they were fired because they were Democrats and paid a settlement to stay quiet.

“They were managers who were doing their job and they were managers over several administrations and they were doing their work. It is clear from these agreements they were fired. They were given payment to keep quiet,” Hatch says. “Both are illegal and there’s going to have to be some sort of investigation.”

While non-disclosure agreements are common in the private sector, Hatch contends that’s not the case in state government and, according to Hatch, the kind of “political interference”  described in these cases is against the law.

“That kind of intimidation by the executive to employees who are managers who are doing their job is a bit frightening, I think,” Hatch says.

In addition, Hatch is skeptical of Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds’ assertion that neither she nor Branstad knew anything about what Hatch is now calling “hush money.”

“It’s really intriguing for the lieutenant governor to say she and her boss, the governor, had no idea this was done,” Hatch says.

Hatch accuses Branstad of “having a pattern” of denying knowledge of any “scandal” that develops in state government during his watch.

Spokesmen for Branstad have not responded to requests for comment on Hatch’s statements.