Senate Releases Internal Investigation on Sexual Harassment Allegations

DES MOINES, Iowa — On Friday Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix and Senate President Jack Whitver released the results of an internal review.

Senator Majority Leader Bill Dix and Senate President Jack Whitver made the following statement regarding the release of the internal review:

“Our goal in releasing the review is to balance two competing concerns. The first concern is to be open with Iowans about the workplace issues in the Iowa Senate. The second concern is to protect the confidence of those individuals who shared this information with an expectation of confidentiality. Redactions have been made in consultation with legal counsel to protect confidential and personally identifiable information. In order to improve the workplace culture, employees need to know they can share their concerns without those issues being shared publicly. Publicizing those individuals could have a chilling effect on the willingness of employees to make reports of future incidents.

We will continue to consult with Ambassador Kramer as we work to improve the workplace culture in the Iowa Senate. As this review shows, the workplace culture needs to improve, it can improve, and with a lot of hard work, it will improve.”

The internal review and memo from legal counsel may be found at the following link: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/WMD/SenateInternalReview.pdf.

The review follows the sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Kirsten Anderson. Anderson won, and the state settled for $1.7 million dollars.

“The sensitivity is really at the heart of this whole discussion in the first place. It`s ensuring that employees who have a concern, that they have a safe environment and a safe expectation of bringing that complaint forward without fear of any retaliation, and that is my sole purpose and my sole concern as it relates to how we move forward.”

Ten days ago Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix expressed concerns about releasing the results of the internal sexual harassment investigation. The governor pressured him to go public.

“I did call the senator and talked to him and encouraged him to really take the steps, so people would feel confident that they were doing the right thing,” said Governor Kim Reynolds. “(I) just encouraged him to go ahead and release the report. I thought that was a step in the right direction.”

Anderson, the former communications director for the senate republican caucus, sued over sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Following the settlement, Senator Majority Leader Dix ordered an investigation into sexual harassment within the republican caucus.

Among the findings: multiple senator staffers noted that while on the senate floor, senators would make sexually suggestive comments or comments about sexual preferences. The report also says some of the comments occurred during this past legislative session. Prior to the report, Senator Dix said there was one thing all senate staff was clear on:

“Everyone here knows that prior to the trial and even today we have zero tolerance with respect to sexual harassment, we’re going to continue that.”

However, the report found not everyone was aware of the zero tolerance policy, and that some were confused by what it meant. The report also says both current and past harassment prevention training is ineffective.