Michelle McGovern

Michelle McGovern

Governor Branstad has put a woman with three decades of experience in charge of workers compensation disputes that are appealed to the state.

Michelle McGovern is a lawyer who is now the acting Iowa Workers Compensation Commissioner. She started at the agency in 1982 and has been a deputy commissioner for the past 26 years.

Christopher Godfrey, the former Workers Compensation Commissioner, left the job last month to take a job as chief judge of a federal board that decides employee compensation appeals. Governor Branstad tried to force Godfrey to resign in 2011, but Godfrey refused and has sued Branstad, accusing the governor of targeting him for dismissal because he’s gay.

Some of the Iowa lawyers who handle workers comp disputes between employees and businesses were concerned that Branstad had failed to immediately name an acting or interim commissioner in Godfrey’s place. Arbitration decisions from the state agency hadn’t been issued since Godfrey left August 21.

Branstad’s written statement announcing McGovern will now be the acting commissioner indicated “an exhaustive and extensive search for a permanent commissioner continues.”