DES MOINES — Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said neither she nor Gov. Terry Branstad knew of allegations regarding political firing and secret settlements involving state employees until the story appeared in the news.
On Sunday, The Des Moines Register published the accounts of six former state workers who said they were fired for political reasons, given secret payments by the state and asked to sign confidentiality agreements to keep the settlements out of public view.
“We did not find out until yesterday,” Reynolds said when asked about her knowledge of the accusations Monday during the administration’s news conference. “We found it troubling when we learned about the confidentiality clauses, and we intend to put together a group that will perform a comprehensive review of the process.”
Branstad is vacationing in Arizona with his family this week.
The Sunday piece quoted Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers saying the governor doesn’t “micromanage” department decisions. Following the news conference, Centers said he spoke to the paper’s reporters on Tuesday but didn’t pass the message on to either Branstad or Reynolds.
“We didn’t know the full details (of the story) at that point,” Centers said.
Democrats jumped on the administration’s response, saying the governor was “insulting the intelligence of Iowans” by saying he didn’t know about the payments.
“The exact same thing happened across several different agencies. It was approved several times by several different high level Branstad political appointees,” state Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, said in a statement. “This pattern shows the Governor’s office knew about these secret and illegal payouts and directed the agency heads to approve them. If he truly didn't, then it shows gross and reckless mismanagement.”Hatch is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.