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Senate Oversight Committee Chair requests documents related to “hush money” payouts



This news story was published on March 18, 2014.
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Janet Petersen, State Senator

Janet Petersen, State Senator

DES MOINES – State Senator Janet Petersen of Des Moines, chair of the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee, has written a letter to Governor Branstad requesting “public documents related to secret settlement agreements with former state employees.”

Petersen seeks copies of all signed, unsigned and proposed “settlement agreements” between any state agency and former employees since January 14, 2011.  She also requests information on state department directors who requested such agreements and the names of persons who authorized the payments.

“Spending almost $300,000 provided by taxpayers to pay former state employers to keep silent is outrageous.  How did this happen?  What information was intended to be concealed by these payments?” said Petersen.

On Sunday, March 12, the Des Moines Register reported that more than $280,000 was paid out in six secret settlements to former state employees who were asked to sign confidentiality agreements agreeing not to speak about the settlements.  A majority of the longtime merit system employees blamed Republican cronyism for the loss of their jobs.

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said on Monday she and Governor Branstad were unaware of the secret agreements and payments.

“Iowa taxpayers deserve the truth from the Governor about how their money is being spent,” Petersen said.

THE LETTER:

March 18, 2014

Governor Terry Branstad
Office of the Governor
Iowa State Capitol
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Dear Governor Branstad:

Gov. Terry Branstad

Gov. Terry Branstad

As Chair of the Senate Government Oversight Committee, I am writing to request public documents related to secret settlement agreements with former state employees.

I am deeply concerned about a report in the Des Moines Register that taxpayer dollars were used as “hush money.” As a legislator and a taxpayer, I am outraged that your Administration used taxpayer dollars to keep agreements secret from Iowa citizens.

Therefore, I am requesting:

  • Copies of any and all proposed “settlement agreements” that were not signed by former employees.
  • Copies of any and all “settlement agreements,” “grievance settlement agreements,” and similar agreements between any state agency and former employees since January 14, 2011.
  • Copies of all complaints filed with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and/or the Iowa Public Employees Relations Board by persons who later signed such agreements.
  • An itemized list of the funding sources for payments associated with such agreements, separated out by state department or agency and fiscal year.
  • An itemized list of the employee or director that requested and the employee or director that authorized these payments to be included with such agreements.

Please provide expedited delivery of this information, both electronic and hard copies of all documents within five days.

Sincerely,

Janet Petersen
State Senator
Chair, Senate Government Oversight Committee

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