State Senator Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat and gubernatorial candidate, wants an independent investigation into nearly $500,000 paid to dismissed state workers.
Hatch made his call Monday morning.
"There were a few people who have ignited and initiated this whole process, that approved and said it was ok. To pay employees who were being laid off, not for positions that they were not qualified for. They were laid off and to keep them quiet. They paid hush money. They actually paid them additional dollars to keep the settlement confidential," Hatch said.
Department of Administrative Services Director Mike Carroll denied the state offered dismissed workers any additional money to keep quiet.
Hatch recommended a certified public accountant should look at how the departments paid out the money and what the source of that money was. Governor Terry Branstad has said departments used money from existing budgets and that ultimately the reduced number of workers saves taxpayers money. Hatch didn't offer a more specific recommendation for whom should carry out the review.
The governor has said the state auditor will review spending by departments. Hatch said that since the governor originally appointed Republican Mary Mosiman to the position, she may not be impartial in her reviews.
Meanwhile, Bransad repeated his public support for Carroll and said he believes Carroll is telling the truth that no workers received any additional payments in exchange for not talking publicly. He said, "I specifically asked Director Carroll about this matter and he assumed to me that was not true."
A legislative oversight committee is already looking into the source of the confidential agreements. Hatch is not a member of that committee.