EXCLUSIVE: Others Used Secret Settlements Too

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad claimed his wasn’t the only administration that used confidential agreements with dismissed state workers.

“This was done in previous administrations,” the governor asserted, repeating a charge Monday that he made the week before.

Newly released documents from the Department of Administrative Services back that claim up. D.A.S. provided the documents following a Channel 13 request.

They show eight different settlements that included confidentiality clauses during the administration of Branstad’s predecessors Governor Chet Culver and Lt. Governor Patty Judge.

The documents disclose agreements with dismissed state workers from seven different agencies. One included a payment of $50,000. Another included a payment of $11,877. Others provide terms of payments that do not include a dollar amount.

The documents contradict what former Lt. Governor Judge said on Channel 13′s “The Insiders” Sunday. Judge had sharply criticized Branstad for saying he didn’t know top state department officials had used confidential agreements. “This to me is just beyond the pale. I don’t understand why Governor Branstad would do this,” Judge said.

In response to whether her administration had also used similar agreements, Judge had said, “I think I would have known it. And in my mind there has been and believe me I’ve thought about this all week, I don’t think that ever happened.”

Watch Judge’s comments in the first segment of Channel 13′s “The Insiders” Sunday, along with her response to a challenge Republican strategist Dave Kochel gave her.

Senate Democrats have criticized Branstad for allowing the use of the confidential agreements with two dozen workers that gave payments totaling nearly $500,000. They begin oversight hearings Wednesday morning to look into them.

Branstad’s Democratic gubernatorial challenger, Des Moines State Senator Jack Hatch, has been especially critical. Last Monday, Hatch said, “If he did not know about the direction of his agency creating confidentiality agreements, then you begin to wonder who’s in charge.”

When asked whether Hatch would have similar outrage if he learned past Democratic administrations had also used the confidential agreements, as Branstad claimed, Hatch responded, “This is another example of the governor trying to shift the blame to somebody else.”

Branstad has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the settlements during his administration. But he hasn’t been able to see how top officials of a dozen departments, agencies and commission would use the agreements and never tell him about it.

Monday, the governor denied a “mastermind” was behind the payments.

The governor issued an executive order that bans the practice of similar confidential agreements in the future.

Click to read the confidentiality agreements dismissed state workers received during Governor Chet Culver’s administration.

Click to view a summary of the total number of settlements for the last 8 fiscal years.