May 3rd, 2018 Posted In: News

Serious questions are still swirling around the Reynolds Administration as not one but three new investigations began this week into the alleged wrongdoing at the Iowa Finance Authority and other state agencies. In a recent editorial, the Des Moines Register Editorial Board raised many concerns about the health of Iowa’s government under Reynolds’ leadership, including the damning discovery of “a fear of retaliation by state employees who speak up about wrongdoing.”

“Reynolds’ initial suggestion that she solved the problems festering in her government by firing one person was absurd at the time, and now it looks negligent. It’s clear that a culture of fear and corruption has gone unchecked in the state government under Kim Reynolds. As these investigations progress, Iowans should be watching for timely, open, and honest results with action-driven solutions, not the delay tactics and empty rhetoric we’ve gotten from Reynolds so far,” said Iowa Democratic Party Spokesperson Tess Seger.

Excerpts from the editorial can be found below:

DES MOINES REGISTER: Editorial “To stamp out fear of retaliation, Gov. Kim Reynolds needs to fumigate state government”

“When you see a termite in your house, you don’t just step on it and assume you’ve solved the problem.

When you see allegations of blatant sexual harassment spanning over years and questions about financial mismanagement in state government, you don’t assume the problem is isolated to one agency.”  

“The serious nature of multiple complaints means Reynolds should not confine the inquiry to one state entity:

  • Jamison allegedly committed sexual harassment over a period of years and was occasionally witnessed by agency managers who apparently did not report it and whose jobs may have been threatened.
  • The Register has reported that the governor and executive council were left in the dark about a third-party review that showed IFA could repair its current office building for far less than the $17 million cost to relocate. The governor has said the IFA relocation will go forward anyway.
  • A former IFA employee alleges that another employee’s personal Paypal account was used to collect thousands of dollars in agency fees over several years.
  • The new IFA director acknowledges that budget authority given to Jamison by the IFA board was interpreted so broadly that multiple employees were allowed to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the organization’s behalf without board approval.”
“But there’s a common thread that runs through all of these complaints and allegations and that’s what Reynolds must root out and banish: a fear of retaliation by state employees who speak up about wrongdoing.

The anonymous IFA employee who complained about sexual harassment wrote in her letter to the governor:  ‘I think (Department of Administrative Services) will just cover for (Jamison) and I’ll end up without a job.’

The letter also alleged that Jamison told a high-level employee who reprimanded him about inappropriate remarks:  ‘You must be allergic to a paycheck.’

The letter writer added: “I understood this to be a threat of retaliation.”

In an exclusive interview with the Register, Deb Flannery, a former IFA employee, said she was fired in 2016 for no documented reason after she raised concerns about financial practices at the agency.

It was actual retaliation, not just fear, that was at the root of the $1.75 million lawsuit settlement that taxpayers had to cover in Kirsten Anderson’s sexual harassment case against the Senate Republican caucus. Anderson was fired in 2013, seven hours after she presented a list of complaints to her supervisor about sexual harassment and a toxic work environment.

This isn’t just about sexual harassment or one bad apple at a relatively small, semi-independent agency. This is about a climate of fear in state government.

Reynolds and lawmakers must expand their investigation beyond IFA to ensure all state employees can report problems and concerns without the threat of losing their jobs. Officials should view the situation at IFA as the first sighting of a termite that could signal far greater rot within the core of state government.”

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