On Tuesday in a letter to the Governor, the Chair of Iowa’s Senate Oversight Committee requested more information about the “secret settlements” with former state employees.
“I think it's outrageous. Taxpayer dollars shouldn't be used to keep people quiet,” says State Senator Janet Petersen, (D) Des Moines.
Petersen believes Iowans deserve to know why more than $280,000 in “hush money” went to six people, five of whom used to work in the Department of Administrative Services or DAS and one in the Department of Public Health. Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds says she and Governor Branstad had no knowledge of the payouts.
“They're claiming they had no idea this was going on and I think taxpayers are going to find that hard to believe,” says Petersen.
The Governor’s Office released this statement Tuesday. “A comprehensive review is underway to ensure the administration is adhering to the Governor and Lt. Governor's goal of efficient, effective and transparent government. Upon completion of the review, the findings and any actions will be made public.”
Governor Branstad's Chief of Staff, legal counsel and Department of Management Director are reviewing the settlements. Peterson says lawmakers want answers now.
“How are they shifting dollars around that they're able to offer that type of money without us being able to catch that?”
The request for documents goes back to January 2011 when Branstad took office. Once lawmakers review the information, they will determine whether to call hearings on the "hush money."
The Governor's Office says any documents would come from DAS, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the Iowa Public Employees Relations Board.