A top official called to testify before legislators about “hush money” payments to laid off state employees has abruptly resigned.
Doug Woodley had been the chief operating officer for the Department of Administrative Services. Back in April Woodley joined the agency’s director to tell the Legislature’s Oversight Committee that no “hush money” payments were made, but the governor soon fired the agency’s director after email was released proving workers had been offered extra cash to keep quiet about their exit settlements with the state.
Woodley, the agency’s number two administrator, was offered the options of resigning or being fired. Janet Phipps, the woman Governor Branstad appointed as the agency’s interim director, issued a three-sentence statement. She said Woodley had resigned, she wished him “well in his future endeavors” and she said two other agency administrators would handle Woodley’s duties until a replacement is hired.
Democrats on the Senate Oversight Committee have accused Woodley of laying off experienced construction managers in the state agency and replacing them with his “cronies” in the construction industry. Senate Oversight Committee chair Janet Petersen
“The departure of another high-ranking official is more evidence of the serious management problems in the Branstad Administration,” Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines who is chair of the Senate Oversight Committee, said this morning.
Petersen plans to reconvene the Oversight Committee in June to ask more questions of state administrators.
“I’m committed to getting to the bottom of this scandal so Iowa taxpayers know what happened in the Branstad Administration, how it happened,” she said, “but most importantly what policy changes we need to implement to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Governor Branstad issued an executive order in April barring confidential settlements. A bill that would have made that policy state law failed to pass the 2014 legislature. Democrats and Republicans quarreled about add-ons to the bill. Republicans wanted to disclose the reasons state employees are fired. Democrats wanted to address the “blacklisting” of state workers.
The Department of Administrative Services — the agency at the center of the debate — serves as the human resources agency for state government and it’s in charge of overseeing state government construction projects as well as maintenance of state-owned buildings.