DIGGING IN: Hearings On Confidential Documents

Democrats want to do it. Republicans do, too. Both sides say they have questions about confidential settlements reached with dismissed state workers. Oversight hearings begin Wednesday morning at the statehouse looking into the agreements.

But both chambers won’t be taking part in the first day of those hearings.

Representative Kevin Koester, an Ankeny Republican, said his House members won’t be sitting at the table when four former workers tell their stories. Koester thinks the day will be more about politics than finding answers.

Plus, he added, “Bringing people in that are basically breaking their confidential agreements to do an interview? I don’t agree with that approach.”

Koester does plan on having members show up to take part in day two of the hearings. That is when lawmakers asked Department of Administrative Services Director Mike Carroll to testify on the settlements. His department had a prominent role in administering those settlements.

Governor Terry Branstad said he didn’t know about the confidential settlements and issued an executive order to stop the use of them.

Senator Matt McCoy, a Des Moines Democrat, said his members will take part in day one of testimony because they want to hear the stories of the dismissed workers. They want to see why the workers lost their jobs, whether politics was involved in the decision and whether Branstad’s administration had worked to reclassify workers so it is easier to remove them.

McCoy said now that documents have shown departments under former Democratic Governor Chet Culver also included confidentiality clauses in settlements, oversight members will have questions about those, too.

McCoy said, “We’ll go where the road leads up. And ultimately that would include any Democratic officeholder that also engaged in the same type of activity.”



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