A legislator from Sioux City is calling on the Iowa Senate’s GOP leader to step down after a jury awarded $2.2 million to a former aide to Senate Republicans.
Kirsten Anderson, the former communications director for Senate Republicans, told the jury she was fired seven hours after she complained to her boss about sexual harassment in the workplace. Republican State Senator Rick Bertrand of Sioux City said in a written statement released late Wednesday that “ultimately” it was Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix who made the decision to fire Anderson. Bertrand said it’s time for Dix to resign as the GOP’s leader, so Republicans in the senate can have a “fresh start.”
Bertrand said current staff members testified they witnessed the harassment, but didn’t report it for “fear of retaliation.” According to Bertrand, Dix “has a pattern of retaliation” and Bertrand suggests power “has that effect on some people.” After the legislature ended in April, Dix stripped Bertrand and another Republican senator of key committee assignments for reasons that were not publicly disclosed.
Senator Dix issued a written statement Tuesday after the verdict in the harassment case was announced, saying Anderson had been fired for poor work and nothing else. Dix took over as Senate Republican Leader in mid-November of 2012. Anderson was fired six months later. Dix said in his written statement on Wednesday that the incidents of harassment that were discussed during the trial will be investigated immediately.
Iowa taxpayers will foot the bill for the jury’s $2.2 million award to the fired Senate staffer.