Political Columnist: “Sen. Dix Doesn’t Seem to Know What’s Going On”

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Critics are calling for the Iowa Senate majority leader to step down. They say he's handling a harassment case, and an internal investigation all wrong.

Senator Bill Dix announced Tuesday he is putting off hiring a human resources manager to handle complaints of sexual harassment.  Dix also says he has no plans of releasing the information found in senate's internal review.  A review which was sparked by a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to Iowa law, he's not required to make those findings public.

“The law as its now written doesn’t cover the legislature. The legislature is a separate branch of government and the law is written to cover the executive branch and other state and local government agencies,” says Iowa Freedom of Information Coalition executive director, Randy Evans.

Despite wanting to keep a hold of the report, Dix told reporters Tuesday there was no written report and that he had not seen or read over any report.

Des Moines Register reporter, William Petroski asked Dix, “Is there actually a written report that`s on your desk that summarizes the findings from what Mr. Smithson found?

Senator Dix responded, “No, my understanding is that the transcription is being put together on an ongoing basis and I have not personally seen that.”

Charles Smithson, the secretary of senate who conducted the internal interview then spoke over the crowd of journalists say there is report.

Senator Nate Boulton called Dix’s lack of knowledge damaging to the republican caucus.

“If you don`t know there’s a written report or a verbal report when you’re analyzing how you should move forward on something as serious as this, it tells me you have not given this the very serious thoughtful approach this deserves,” says senator and democratic gubernatorial candidate, Nate Boulton.

Boulton says Dix's response will likely keep others who have been harassed in the shadows based on how he's handling the situation now. Meanwhile others are calling the senator a liability.

“It’s up to his caucus whether Bill Dix is toast or not. He represents all the republican senators. They are on the ones who elected him and they have to determine if they want him to keep serving as leader,” says Kathie Obradovich, a political columnist for the Des Moines Register.

She says Dix had the chance to move the situation in the right direction by hiring a human resource manager but says the senator does not appear to have a good handle on the situation or what he wants to do about it.

“He said he’s the leader. It’s his responsibility. He wants to be the one who is accountable but he doesn`t seem to know what’s going on.”