State Auditor Rob Sand says taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to appeal a jury’s decision that awarded $1.5 million to a former state official.
Sand, a Democrat, wrote a letter to other statewide officials about the case involving former Republican Governor Terry Branstad and former Workers Compensation Commissioner Christopher Godfrey, who accused Branstad of trying to force him to resign because he’s gay.
“We have seen this case go to the Iowa Supreme Court twice to answer legal questions and we’ve seen a jury of Iowans provide a unanimous verdict,” Sand told Radio Iowa. “We know enough now…We, as taxpayers, shouldn’t be paying any more for it.”
The state has already paid nearly $2 million in the past seven years for private lawyers who defended Branstad. Sand, as state auditor, is a member of the state Executive Council. Sand has approved some of those legal bills after he became an Executive Council member this past January when he took office.
“Litigation can be expensive sometimes,” Sand said. “I know that because when I was at the attorney general’s office I had a number of cases that were tough and long and complicated, but sometimes that happens.”
But Sand said now that a jury has decided the case, he’ll be a “no” vote if current statewide officials like him are asked to pay for an appeal.
“I thought the best way to start the conversation might be a letter,” Sand said.
Sand told Radio Iowa he’s hearing from people on social media who are ready for this case to be closed.
“There’s a lot of people in my own party who want to see Terry Branstad be forced to pay personally for what happened,” Sand said, “but, as I expressed in my letter, I don’t think that the evidence in the case meets the standard legally for that to happen.”
Branstad testified that he wanted Godfrey to resign because the business community did not like Godfrey’s rulings on workers compensation claims.