The Iowa Senate’s Democratic leader questions how much the public will learn when an internal investigation into misconduct in the Senate GOP Caucus Staff office is released this week.
“The new meaning to Black Friday. It’ll be a report with a lot black out on it, I suppose,” Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen of Des Moines said today after taping an appearance on IPTV’s “Iowa Press” program.
On Tuesday, Senate GOP Leader Bill Dix announced he’ll release the internal investigation he ordered after a jury sided with one of his former employees who sued, primarily because of co-worker’s bad behavior. Petersen said the report Dix releases Friday should lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the investigation Dix ordered.
“How did the process work? Who was involved? What were they looking for? What are the findings?” Petersen asked. “…As a state senator from the Democratic side and I know Senate Republicans from what I’ve seen in the media — we’ve all been kept in the dark on how this investigation was handled and so I think we all need a chance to look to see: Was this really a true investigation and what can we learn from it and how do we move forward from it?”
Dix has previously announced the investigation found no new cases of harassment beyond those that were revealed during this summer’s trial. Dix fired Senate GOP communications director Kirsten Anderson four-and-a-half years ago, shortly after she handed over a memo outlining her complaints. The state will pay Anderson and her lawyer $1.75 million to settle Anderson’s lawsuit.
Petersen today said she’s waiting for answers about the new human resources manager Dix and the Republican speaker of the House plan to hire.
“How will this fix the situation? Can taxpayers count on this being a way for us to not have another verdict to come down that they’re going to be charged with the bill?” Petersen asked.
Petersen said she’s consulting with other lawmakers in hopes of finding a way to prevent taxpayers from paying future legal settlements for misconduct by legislators or their staff. Petersen said “everywhere I go,” voters ask about the pay-out to the fired Senate GOP staffer.
“I believe it will be an issue in 2018 and one of the reasons we’ve had people step forward to run because of it,” Petersen said.
Petersen said during the “Iowa Press” taping that she believes Anderson’s harassment case would never have gone to trial if Dix had followed the rules in the Senate employee handbook and immediately conducted an investigation four years ago,