Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds maintained that she, Governor Terry Branstad and their staffs only found out within the past week that taxpayers gave nearly $300,000 in previously secret settlements funded by tax dollars after six employees were terminated.
The Des Moines Register uncovered the payments. Some employees told the newspaper that they lost their jobs because they were Democrats, a charge the Branstad administration denies, as not all involved employees were Democrats. A confidentiality clause prevented them from disclosing specifics of their settlements or reasons for termination.
Reynolds said the administration will put together a "group" to look into the claims but didn't offer a timeline or provide who would make up that group. Reynolds said, "We found it troubling when we learned about the confidentiality clause. We intend to put together a group that will perform a comprehensive review of the process."
Reynolds didn't offer a timeline or provide who would make up that group.
Reynolds said the administration gives department heads directions to look for ways to form a learner government and it doesn't "micromanage." The staff reductions in the state departments of administrative services and public health are supposed to save more than $700,000 a year.
Senator Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat and Branstad gubernatorial challenger, said in a statement, “For Governor Branstad’s office to claim the Governor had no idea about these secret payouts insults the intelligence of Iowans."
Branstad was away from the statehouse on a planned family vacation.