The co-chair of the Legislature’s Oversight Committee says her panel may use its subpeona power to compel top staff in the Iowa Department of Administrative Services to testify before her committee.
“We’re going to take a look at that because we can’t continue to have them delay, delay, delay,” says Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines.
The Senate half of the Legislature’s Oversight Committee had asked two top department administrators to appear before the panel this afternoon to answer questions about an alleged “hush money” scandal, but the two men will not be there.
“How long does it take for them to spin the truth?” Petersen asks. “If you’re going to tell the truth, you shouldn’t have to have more time to prepare.”
The governor fired the agency’s director this week, for lying to him about deals with laid off state workers that included extra money if the worker agreed to keep their exit settlement secret. Petersen says there are still unanswered questions, since the nor-fired director says he was misled by others in the agency.
“I believe it is well beyond any one person in that department,” Petersen says. “There are a number of people that we believe we need to talk to.”
The only lawyer who is a state senator is warning the State of Iowa faces legal action for the way the Department of Administrative Services has handled human resources issues. Senator Rob Hogg a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the agency told the now-fired commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home the names of people who complained he had threatened and sexual harassed them — before an investigation of the complaints was completed.
“The State of Iowa is sitting on a powder keg of lawsuits,” Hogg says.
The legislature’s top Republican has suggested Democrats in the Senate are conducting a “campaign” against Republican Governor Terry Branstad to help one of their own. Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, is the only Democrat running for governor this year. Branstad is seeking reelection to a sixth term as governor.