Current and former judges who rule on contested claims over unemployment benefits for laid-off workers testified Tuesday before the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee. Joe Walsh, the former chief administrative law judge in the Iowa Workforce Development agency, was laid off by the department’s director, who then put herself in charge.
“Which means that you have a partisan political employee in direct management of administrative law judges,” Walsh said.
Walsh said Teresa Wahlert — Governor Branstad’s Iowa Workforce Development director –pressured him to give tips to businesses on how to win cases against laid-off employees. Other judges like Marlon Moorman testified that Wahlert questioned their pro-employee rulings.
“And the pressure was direct. It wasn’t subtle,” Mormon told lawmakers. “It was: ‘You need to change.'”
But one judge who has now been elevated to a management role said she had never been pressured to decide a case one way or another. Wahlert is scheduled to appear before the committee today.