DES MOINES, Iowa -- When the state paid out a little over $4 million in settlement money following sexual harassment claims involving the former director of the Iowa Finance Authority, that money came from the state's general fund. Today the finance authority's board of directors voted to reimburse the state.
“There is a culture we have to rebuild here” said Interim Director Debi Durham.
The culture rebuild comes after two Iowa Finance Authority employees claimed former director David Jamison engaged in a pattern of sexually harassing behavior for years. Durham says she supported reimbursing the general fund even before Governor Reynolds requested they consider it.
“I think this is the right thing to do and I'll tell you why. I think we need to put a period on this and we need to move forward as an organization. It needs to end, it needs to end for the claimants” she said.
The board voted to reimburse the state, save for Jeff Heil. He argued that the IFA shouldn't be responsible because they didn't know about the allegations of harassment, and Jamison was appointed to the position by the Branstad Administration, not hired by the board.
“Are we at wrong? No. We have an individual that was totally out of line and no one in the board or anywhere else had specific knowledge or anything. So, when it was taken care of it was taken care of appropriately” said Heil.
An independent report found the board had no knowledge of the allegations against Jamison. Two high-ranking members of the IFA did, but they didn't report it. The money being sent to the state's general fund comes from an IFA fund made up of money collected through interest on IFA loans, and profits from their low-income housing program. Durham says the fund does not contain taxpayer collected money and reimbursing wont impact current IFA programs or staffing.
“We do have the resources and they're not budgeted and I was told with confidence it does not impact our programming of what we're doing today. Could it in the future, perhaps, but perhaps not” she said.
“We got four million dollars not designated specifically as a surplus, but we do low-income housing, we do special grants like the Marshalltown grant, we do senior housing, all the projects, clean water, it does have an impact” said Heil.
After the meeting concluded the board as a whole refused on camera interviews to expand on this issue. Instead, Durham issued this statement which reads in part:
“Out of respect for the claimants, we are not going to dwell on what has been a difficult time. Instead, IFA will be focused on the future and continuing to provide important services to the Iowans and communities participating in our programs”.
There still the possibility that the IFA or the state decides to try to recover some of the money by suing Jamison directly.