A partisan investigation against the Branstad administration launched by the Des Moines Register and heavily hyped by Iowa Democrats has backfired. The Register’s supposedly extensive “investigative reports” into settlement agreements with fired state employees have been exposed as completely one-sided.
Meanwhile, Iowa Democrats now look like hypocrites for attacking Governor Branstad on the issue while ignoring their own culpability.
Despite numerous “investigative” articles on this issue by the Register, it took a different media outlet, WHO-TV, to show that this practice is nothing new and was used almost twice as many times by Democrat Chet Culver’s administration. The were 632 settlements reached during the Culver administration, compared to 321 during Branstad’s current tenure.
Iowa Democrats are desperately hoping the manufactured scandal will help State Senator Jack Hatch in the gubernatorial campaign. Polls show Hatch losing to Branstad by a very wide margin.
During a forum on March 22 in Monticello, Hatch praised Chet Culver and his Lt. Governor Patty Judge as “great leaders”. Over the past two weeks, Hatch and his Democrat colleagues have bashed Branstad over the settlements and confidential payments. Now that it has been proven that Culver’s administration did the exact same thing, Hatch looks foolish for attacking Branstad while praising Culver.
Making matters worse, former Lt. Governor Patty Judge appeared on WHO-TV’s “The Insiders” program on Sunday, ripping Branstad for the confidential settlements and claiming the practice did not happen in the Culver administration.
“No, they didn’t. They just didn’t and this to me is just beyond the pale. I don’t understand why Governor Branstad would do this,” Judge said.
When asked again if the Culver administration had used similar agreements, Judge issued another denial.
“I do not believe that was ever the case during the Culver/Judge administration. I have no recollection. I just don’t think that happened,” the former Lt. Governor claimed.
One day later, WHO-TV’s Dave Price proved Patty Judge wrong. The video below was edited by TIR, using mostly footage from the WHO story:
Unwittingly, Patty Judge lent credence to Governor Branstad’s claim that he was not aware of the secret settlements.
Additionally, AFSCME, the state employees union, signed off on many of the supposedly controversial settlement agreements:
AFSCME donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Iowa Democratic Party, Democrat candidates and Democrat officials. The union has also endorsed Jack Hatch for governor.
AFSCME’s role in the settlements was never revealed by the Des Moines Register’s “investigation”, and if there is truly any wrongdoing in these cases, AFSCME is guilty of the same things Democrats are accusing the Branstad administration of doing.
Governor Branstad stated last week that keeping payments to former employees confidential was wrong and he issued an executive order that discontinues the practice.
The Democrat-led Iowa Senate Government Oversight Committee will conduct hearings looking into the settlements on Wednesday and Thursday. AFSCME’s role and the actions of Culver administration should be very closely examined by this committee. If not, we will know this issue is merely a partisan witch hunt and has nothing to do with ensuring a transparent state government.
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