Governor Kim Reynolds this morning said “it would be healthy” for Republicans in the Iowa Senate to have an “outside” review of the sexual harassment allegations aired during a recent trial. Reynolds told reporters that’s how allegations are handled in the executive branch of state government.
“Whenver we would have an incident, we have an outside person come in and actually do the investigation, ask the questions and report back,” Reynolds said during her weekly news conference. “And so I think it’s always appropriate or it’s not a bad idea to have an outside individual like that review the situation and then give a report back.”
In July, a jury awarded former Senate Republican Caucus Staff communications director Kirsten Anderson $2.2 million after she and others on the staff testified about instances of harassment in their workplace. Last Friday, Senate GOP Leader Bill Dix announced the secretary of the senate he brought on staff early this year would investigate to determine if the allegations were “truthful.” Reynolds today said the “full scope” of what came out at trial should be reviewed.
“I have faith in Senator Dix that he will take the necessary and has, it’s my understanding, taking the necessary steps to make sure that’s not going to be tolerated in the workplace,” Reynolds said.
After the news conference, a spokeswoman for Reynolds said it was the governor’s understanding Secretary of the Senate Charles Smithson consider the option of “appointing an outside, independent agency like (Iowa Department of Administrative Services) to investigate these allegations.”
The attorney for the fired former staffer who won the judgement against the state has questioned the commitment Dix has to make changes and has asked the court to order an independent review of activities in the Senate GOP Caucus office. Reynolds said during today’s news conference that the Department of Administrative Services in the executive branch can assist the legislative branch in conducting an “outside” review.
“I think it would be probably healthy,” Reynolds said.
AUDIO of governor’s weekly news conference (discussion of this topic begins in 27th minute)
As the governor has in the past, Reynolds told reporters she has “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment in the workplace. Some Democrats have called on Senate Republicans to use campaign funds to pay the $2.2 million judgment awarded to their staffer, but Governor Reynolds said if the decision’s not appealed, it will be paid with taxpayer money in the state’s General Fund.
STATEMENT FROM SENATOR DIX RELEASED SHORTLY BEFORE 3PM:
In light of comments by Governor Reynolds this morning, Senator Dix releases the following information regarding the human resources initiatives underway in the Iowa Senate.
“On the advice of the Attorney General’s office on July 27, 2017, the Secretary of the Senate contacted the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to begin the process of entering into a contractual relationship between the Iowa Senate and the department to provide human resources services to the Iowa Senate. As an agency of the executive branch, separate from the legislative branch, DAS did not have a contractual relationship with the Iowa Senate to provide these services. In compliance with the governmental accounting standards, a contractual relationship must be established prior to the delivery of services and reimbursement of services rendered.
As I have stated previously, harassment of all types will not be tolerated in the Iowa Senate. It will be a safe working environment. Action was immediately taken to investigate issues which arose during the recent trial and had not been investigated and that process is ongoing. Once a contractual relationship has been established, DAS will provide those human resources services to the Iowa Senate. I look forward to working with DAS to ensure a safe working environment exists for all employees.”