CEDAR RAPIDS — A Palo man has filed a complaint alleging that the director of the Iowa Department of Education violated state law by accepting a trip to a conference in Rio de Janeiro.
Richard Fredericks filed a formal complaint with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board alleging that Jason Glass violated state campaign finance, executive branch ethics and lobbying laws or administrative rules.
Glass attended the International Education Initiative in Rio de Janeiro earlier this month. His participation in the all-expense-paid conference was appropriate, Glass said, because it was paid for by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which had received a grant from the Pearson Foundation.
Questions have been raised because the foundation is associated with Pearson, a corporation that has contracts with the state of Iowa for about $4.8 million.
“The fact the organization paying for his trip either does state business directly, or does it indirectly is more than sufficient evidence for filing this ethics complaint,” according to Iowalive, which raised the ethics issue. Fredericks is a member of the group that bill itself as “a growing network of volunteer citizens and professionals for improving Iowa.”
The complaint will be reviewed by Megan Tooker, the ethics board’s executive director and legal counsel, to see if it meets the requirements state law sets forth for a complaint.
If it does, she then will conduct a legal review to determine whether the allegations, if proved true, would constitute a violation of state law. If it meets that test, she will present the complaint to the ethics board, which has a meeting tentatively scheduled for late October.
If the board members concur that the complaint is legally sufficient, it can order a staff investigation. Those findings will be reported to the board, which, if it determines there is probable cause to believe a violation occurred, can set a contested case hearing.
If violations are found, the board has options ranging from an admonishment to civil penalties, Tooker said. The board has no authority to remove Glass or anyone else from an office or appointed position.
Pending complaints are typically considered confidential, Tooker said. Once a case has been resolved, most elements of it are public record.