SETTLEMENT HEARING: Ex-State Workers Testify

Two days of hearings began Wednesday into confidential settlements given to state employees by Branstad administration officials.

Gov. Terry Branstad says two dozen state workers were given confidential settlements by his department heads when the employees changed jobs.

Wednesday the Senate Oversight Committee started hearings focused on workers who received those settlements.

Tony Schmitz told the committee he’d been with the Architectural Engineering and Services Department for five years. He testified that the morning he and other staff members were laid off, just two hours later, an entire new staff took over.

He claimed workers weren’t given any explanation and they were sent home with 20 days worth of pay.

“So, they paid us out 20 days, they paid the new people coming in more money than any of us were making, and then they turned around and paid us settlements. How is that saving the taxpayers money,” Schmitz asked.

Schmitz didn’t give any concrete testimony over the size of the new staff in his old department, if he actually knew how much any of them were being paid, or whether the change led to overall savings in the state budget

Republicans decided not to go to Wednesday’s hearing saying they don’t agree with the plan to talk to workers who received settlements.

“Bringing people in that are basically breaking their confidential agreements to do an interview. I don’t agree with that approach,” says Representative Kevin Koester. He called Wednesday’s hearing political theater and won’t provide answers to his questions.

However he says he will take part in Thursday’s hearing. That’s when the director of the Department of Administrative Services will be called in.

6 comments

  • John

    Does Tony know that by testifiing he broke the agreemetn and is subject to have to repay the amount of the settlement plus fines. I would have consulted as to my obligation or taken my rights under the 5th.

  • John Anderson

    Follow the story before you gripe about breaking confidentiality… The AG said they were unenforceable. They were discovered by a FOIA request- if you want to prosecute someone, try the secretary of state for giving up the secret documents. Cat’s out of the bag, “the state” broke the agreements by surrendering them, not the ex employees.

    The illegal actions are misuse of state funds by public employees( the directors). The scandal is the reasoning behind the firings and the scurrying by branstad, reynolds and the republican legislators to cover their malfeasence(s) up. The democrats may be guilty of continuing to sound the alarm loudly, but that’s not a crime.

    Our constitution (the one Terry and his gang swore to uphold) provides
    The governor… and other state officers…shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor or malfeasance in office.

    Based upon his past conduct, I think terry’s head should roll for this!

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