Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cronyism again an issue for Iowa GOP Gov. Branstad

Iowa GOP hack Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, says she had no idea about $280,000 in secret severance payments to former (Democratic) Iowa state employees before a story appeared in Des Moines Register, even though she was contacted about the apparent cronyism by the reporter before the piece was published.
     Here's Reynolds at her bubble-headed partisan best introducing Paul Ryan in Council Bluffs, claiming that Barack Obama lacked "style."
     Reynolds says that GOP Gov. Terry Branstad, currently on vacation in sunny Arizona and unavailable for comment, claims he had no idea what was going on.
     The six employees say they were fired over politics in interviews and grievances they filed. The Branstad administration claims their jobs were eliminated in a "reorganization" but, curiously, all of the settlement agreements had tightly-worded "confidentiality clauses" and two were offered  thousands of dollars apiece to sign additional agreements mandating secrecy.
Iowa's GOP Gov. Branstad again accused of cronyism and placing himself and his administration above the law. Carol Frank, a former construction and design engineer who was laid off in September 2011, likened the Branstad administration to “a group of renegades,” adding, “They just didn’t care about anyone else or about rules or law. They were just hiring their friends.”
     Branstad has spent at least $379,000 of Iowan's taxes defending his administra­tion against a lawsuit by Chris Godfrey, Iowa's gay former compensation commissioner, who alleged defamation, harassment, sexual discrimination and extortion by GOP Gov. Branstad, who cut his salary after he refused to resign, as did other top state employees appointed by Branstad's Democratic predecessor, Chet Culver.
     Branstad's spokesman claimed the governor had no idea know Godfrey was gay.
     Last April, Branstad's state-issued SUV, driven by Trooper Steve Lawrence, was clocked at 84 mph on Highway 20 in Hamilton County, which has a speed limit of 65. Lt. Gov. Reynolds was aboard. Branstad evidently exacted his revenge:
     DCI agent Larry Hedlund, who reported the speeding SUV, was put on paid leave within days of complaining the driver wasn’t ticketed. Hedlund, a 25-year veteran, was fired July 17 and has since sued for wrongful termination.
     The day after Hedlund's firing, Branstad called a news conference and denied Hedlund’s claims that his firing was related to the speeding incident. He then promised that troopers not on emergency business would be told not to exceed speed limits.
     “We need to obey the speeding laws and traffic laws,” Branstad said. “I don’t want to see another incident like this one.”
     Six weeks later, at 11:34 am Aug. 27th on Highway 3 in Franklin County, Branstad’s SUV was again stopped for speeding — again with Lt. Gov. Reynolds aboard. Chief Franklin County Deputy Linn Larson gave Trooper Darren Argabright a written warning, but not a ticket.

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