It’s their first meeting after the fired communications director for Senate Republicans won a $2.2 million judgment in her lawsuit over what she called a “toxic” work environment.
Some Democrats have called on Republicans rather than taxpayers to pay that bill, but Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann says he’s deferring to the 29 Republicans who serve in the senate to decide how to respond.
“Even if it wasn’t a controversial topic like this, that’s a slippery slope when the state party chair begins to state publicly what I think they ought to do to handle their caucus, so I’m going to stay away from that,” Kaufmann says. “But I will tell you that having been a member of a caucus, they will generate opinions and they will react accordingly.”
Kaufmann was a member of the Iowa House for eight years, until January of 2013. Kirsten Anderson was fired in May of 2013 for what Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix has said was poor work “and nothing else.” A jury sided with Anderson, who alleged inappropriate comments about sex and race were common in the Senate Republican Caucus Staff office. Kaufmann says when he was in the House, he was unaware of that kind of behavior.
“I didn’t see anything like this during my time in the House,” Kaufmann says. “…I can look anybody in the eye and just say: ‘Absolutely, it just wouldn’t happen.'”
Kaufmann dismisses the idea Anderson’s allegations will be used successfully against Republican candidates for the senate. Kaufmann points to a tawdry bachelor party in Mingo, Iowa, in the spring of 1986. Several Democratic legislators were there, but voters reelected them that year. The state representative who was charged with indecent exposure at the party won a seat in the Iowa Senate that November.