Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is scheduled to testify next week at a trial in Des Moines. Branstad and two of his aides are accused of pressuring Chris Godfrey, the state’s Workers Compensation Commission, to resign eight years ago because he’s gay.
Roxanne Conlin, Godfrey’s attorney, said after that, Godfrey’s salary was cut by about a third.
“They did that to force him to resign. They figured that would happen,” Conlin said in opening arguments to the jury yesterday. “They were wrong.”
Attorney Frank Harty, who’s representing the state and Branstad in the trial, said Branstad was unaware Godfrey was gay and asked Godfrey to step down because of complaints about Godfrey’s decisions on workers comp cases.
“He had…become a lightning rod. He had earned the distain and the distrust of the business community,” Harty said.
Godfrey filed a discrimination lawsuit against the state in 2012. In 2014, Godfrey left state government to become the chief judge of the federal board that decides employee compensation appeals. He still serves in that role today.
The State of Iowa has paid more than a million dollars paying the private attorneys who’s worked on the case, defend Branstad and his aides, over the past seven years.
(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Grant Gerlock; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)