State Auditor Rob Sand says it’s time to enforce a law that would hold state employees accountable for intentional misconduct that results in a legal settlement. That means, in extreme cases, a state employee could be financial liable if the state offers to pay a victim.

“The law right now in order to have people…held personally accountable for those damages would require evidence of willful and wanton misconduct,” Sand said during a weekend appearance on Iowa Press on Iowa PBS. “…Willful and wanton is typically somebody doing something and doing it repeatedly and they know this is a terrible thing to do and they keep doing it, which is why it oftentimes comes up in the context of sexual harassment.”

Sand, as state auditor, is on the three-member state panel that approves the state’s legal settlements. In 2019, Sand argued the Iowa Finance Authority director who’d been fired should have been on the hook for the $4 million the state paid two employees who said they’d been sexually harassed.

“This isn’t just something that you should care about as a taxpayer. This is something that I hope all Iowans would care about in terms of preventing sexual harassment,” Sand says. “There are people who are willing to do things like this because they think they are going to be insulted from
the consequences of their action. We have to illustrate to them that that’s not the case.”

In the past year, the State of Iowa has paid to settle sexual harassment claims made by a judicial branch employee and a social worker in the Department of Human Services.

Sand, a Democrat, is seeking reelection as state auditor. Todd Halbur, a central Iowa realtor, is the GOP nominee for state auditor.