Democrats in the Iowa Senate have passed a resolution that gives the Senate Oversight Committee subpoena power to call witnesses and obtain documents for statehouse hearings to probe allegations of mismanagement in Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s administration. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal steered the proposal through the senate this morning.
“It is not a criminal investigation. The goal is not to convict people. The only goal is to find out what went wrong and how to fix it,” Gronstal said. “To effectively reform state government, we need to first find out the truth of what happened and why. That’s why the documents and the testimony under oath, obtained by subpoena power, will help us do that.”
Gronstal cited allegations the former commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home bullied residents and employees as well as revelations that more than two dozen laid off state employees were paid “hush money” to keep the terms of their settlements secret.
“When government isn’t working, the job of legislators is to find out what’s gone wrong and propose policy that will fix it,” Gronstal said. “It’s obvious things have gone wrong in the executive branch.”
Governor Branstad and Republicans in the Senate have previously accused Gronstal and his fellow Democrats of engaging in “D.C.-style” politics in order to help Senator Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for governor. However, not a single Republican in the senate made any comments this morning when the resolution came up for debate. Gronstal was the only senator who made remarks.
“The Senate Oversight Committee needs to find out because Governor Branstad has stopped asking or answering questions. Just days ago the governor again claimed his internal investigation and the Executive Order 85 was all that was needed,” Gronstal said. “Today, no one believes that.”
The resolution passed on a voice vote. Senators then adjourned for the year a few minutes before nine a.m.