On Monday, Iowa’s Republican lieutenant governor told The Des Moines Register that neither she nor the governor were aware of the secret settlements paid to employees who claim they were fired for being Democrats.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said that she and Gov. Terry Branstad, who is also a Republican, “found it troubling when we learned about the confidentiality clauses and we intend to put together a group that will perform a comprehensive review of the process.”
The “confidentiality clauses” concerned almost $300,000 secretly paid to ex-state workers allegedly fired for complaining about the Republican administration of Terry Branstad’s embrace of cronyism.
“They are like a group of renegades,” Carol Frank, a former construction and design engineer, told The Des Moines Register. “They just didn’t care about anyone else or about rules or law. They were just hiring their friends.”
After Branstad took office in 2011, the majority of his top 24 department heads were selected after only a single candidate with GOP ties was considered. The candidates often had no previous experience in the areas governed by his or her department.
The Des Moines Register singled out the appointment of former state Rep. Rod Roberts, who now oversees the Department of Inspections and Appeals, which is responsible for inspecting nursing homes and restaurants.
Of the three candidates who applied for the position, only Roberts was considered. Two Democrats — former state Sen. Rod Halvorson, who had 15 years of management experience in Minnesota, and Beverly Zylstra, deputy director of the department since 1986 — were never even interviewed.
Iowa Democrats claim this is a part of a consistent pattern, and refused to believe that the current administration knew nothing of the secret settlements.
“It is not believable that this circumstance they created by running these people out of state government and the secret payments, that they don’t know about it,” said state Sen. Joe Bolkcom. “If the governor really doesn’t know that his administration wrote these secret checks, then it’s time for a change.”
[Image via the official site of the Lt. Gov. of Iowa]