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‘Consider a New Line of Work,’ One Lawmaker’s Advice for Some Agency Leaders

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DES MOINES, Iowa--Some state department heads should worry for their jobs next year if Democrats control the state senate. That's the gist of the warning from State Senator Janet Peterson, a Des Moines Democrat, and chair of the legislature's senate government oversight committee.

"From the research that I have been doing, I believe there will be a number of administrators that may want to consider a different line of work," Petersen said Tuesday following her committee's meeting.

When asked which department leaders should worry, Petersen responded, "I don't want to name them at this point."

But one name for Petersen is Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert. Over the past few months of legislative oversight committee meetings, Democrats assembled administrative law judges who testified about Wahlert's abusive, bullying tactics. Wahlert denied inappropriate behavior.

Next year, department heads would be up for approval in the state senate. Senate confirmation requires support of two-thirds of the members. Petersen doubts Wahlert could get enough support to keep her job. "I don't see a pathway for her to be reappointed," said Petersen.

Petersen's committee released a list of recommendations for the full legislature to consider next session to improve state government and better protect state workers.

Here's the list.

  • A ban on secret settlements and hush money
  • Expanded whistleblower protections
  • Anti-cronyism measures
  • Reform of the state’s “do-not-hire” database
  • A ban on no-bid contracts for state projects
  • Increase accountability in state infrastructure projects
  • Protect Iowans right to fair hearings by preventing political appointees and at-will employees from supervising or evaluating judges
  • Restore integrity to Iowa’s unemployment trust fund by appointing trusted and transparent leadership
  • Require that the Legislature be notified when the Governor receives reports of founded workplace violence in state agencies.

All three Democrats on the committee voted to pass the recommendations. The two Republicans voted against. State Senator Julian Garrett, an Indianola Republican, argued the entire process was just a way to damage Governor Terry Branstad before November's election. Garrett said, "Senate Democrats have been playing political games with the Government Oversight committee. I am voting 'no' on the Senate Democrats' recommendations today, because they are nothing more than a campaign gimmick."

Garrett said, "Over the last 6 months or so we have heard hours and hours of testimony from witnesses who have come in sometimes 3 and 4 times, to be asked the same questions over and over again in hopes of getting responses that support the conclusions my friends in the other party have already drawn and are trying to lead others to draw."

Garrett pointed out the investigation has cost taxpayers more than $100,000. Petersen couldn't give a total dollar figure. But the $100,000 cost was what it cost to request necessary documents from the Department of Administrative Services.

Petersen wouldn't rule out additional hearings. She said she couldn't say whether she would call for them before the election.


  • iamjoespinkyfinger

    Garret has no more sense of morals or ethics than the democrats do, this state needs to get rid of everyone currently in elected office and replace them with honest leaders who deal with issues.

  • John

    I’d like them to debate a bill and pass into law a requirement that all political advertisements be vetted for truthfulness, with the fine being twice the amount of what the ad cost to air/mail/print with 3/4 of the fine being paid by the advertiser ( 4 times for a super pac because anonymity should cost liars more) and 1/4 being paid for by the media company.
    The misinformation our political process is of the same character employed by everyone from the nazi party to ISIL- it’s almost all what was termed ‘yellow dog press’ around the Spanish American wars. The FCC may not be able to keep the garbage off the air, but he Iowa Legislature can take some local control to do so.

  • Fiddlesticks

    Oooh, the disheveled bimbo, Janet Petersen. Purveyor of witch-hunts, along with her snarky buddy Jack Hatch. When the word ‘extreme’ is used, a picture of this liberal nags face should go right along with it. Her manner and way in which she conducts business is nothing short of extreme.

  • Brian

    This is a joke.

    The house passed a bill that accomplished almost all of this stuff, and the Democrat controlled senate refused to even look at it. Now they wait until right before the election to trot out a nearly identical set of recommendations, and then point the finger at their political opposition in an effort to trick people into thinking that their opponents are doing something wrong. The Democrats actions in this matter are not only deceitful but dishonest. It is the same negative, attack ad strategy being deployed by all of their candidates. I hope they are voted out in spades this next election so that they can get some new blood in the door during the next election cycle, giving us independents real options to vote for instead of the same tired, old hacks or what should be unelectible candidates like Bruce Braley. Seroiusly, is that the best guy they could put up for Harkin’s spot? A lawyer who is a puppet for left coast billionare environmentalists? Give me a break. Give us a moderate candidate who actually can think and act for Iowa, not some left wing international activists.

    • Randy Graven

      yeah, and if it was a democrat that got caught cooking the books,etc.like these guys did, all you Republicans would be howling like dogs passing razor blades(and rightly so). I don’t care which party they’re from-if they’re crooks they should hang. Literally.

      • marcopolish

        Randy: you duck the point by posing a response into the “what-if” land. Fact is, a Republican didn’t do all those things, Democrats did. So you have fact on one side, and your unwillingness to acknowledge it on the other. So you are excusing it because of partisanship? Virtually guarantees more problem behavior. Nice job giving tacit permission. Don’t complain about being screwed by politicians, it’s clearly OK with you; or you’d say something about the actual behavior that DID occur.

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