A state senator says a newly-released document shows some of the “hush money” paid to fired state workers came from a fund marked for “utilities” in one state agency’s budget. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, is co-chair of the Legislature’s Oversight Committee.
“I think it shows we’ve got a systemic problem on our hands and dollars were hidden,” Petersen says. “I think the story keeps growing.”
The Department of Administrative has revealed the cash for another confidential settlement with a fired state worker came from an energy program. Senator Petersen says she’s heard from fired workers who contend they were fired because they were whistleblowers.
“They were rock-solid state employees doing great work, being the eyes and ears for taxpayer dollars, especially on things such as multi-million dollar construction projects,” Petersen says.
Four fired state employees will testify before the Legislature’s Oversight Committee on Wednesday. On Thursday, top managers from the Department of Administrative Services will testify before the committee. Governor Branstad last week issued an executive order which bar secret settlements with fired state workers in the future. On Monday Branstad told reporters the money for the confidential settlements paid out by the Department of Administrative Services came from the savings of reorganizing and downsizing the agency.