A slew of scurrilous, and it turns out, unfounded, accusations have consumed state government over the past three weeks. It started with a one-sided and erroneous article in the Des Moines Register and has continued with countless, baseless attacks from Iowa Democrats.
On Thursday, Department of Services Director Mike Carroll set the record straight during a hearing of the Iowa House and Senate Government Oversight Committee.
Here is what we learned:
Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds were not informed of the confidentiality agreements: Director Carroll says he never discussed the settlements with the governor or lt. governor. When Branstad found out about the confidentiality agreements, he issued Executive Order 85, banning the practice.
There were no “secret settlements”: Every single settlement agreed upon by a state department and an employee was public record and available through a public information request. After all, this is how the Des Moines Register gained access to the records in the first place.
There was no “hush money”: Despite Iowa Senate Oversight Committee Chair Janet Petersen opening Wednesday’s meeting by claiming they were looking into “actual and attempted hush money payments” by the Branstad administration, Director Carroll says confidentiality agreements in the DAS were signed so that laid off employees would not disclose the amount of their settlements with other ex-employees who were negotiating their settlements. It was a negotiating tactic aimed at saving taxpayer money. That is not “hush money”.
No employee received extra money to sign a confidentiality agreement: Despite the claims of ex-employees, Carroll says he is not aware of any extra money being paid to employees to sign confidentiality agreements. There is also no evidence of these alleged payments in any state records.
The confidentiality agreements were legal according to the attorney general’s office: The DAS received legal consultation from Democrat Attorney General Tom Miller’s office. They were informed the agreements were legal, but not necessarily enforceable.
The Vilsack and Culver administration’s also did confidentiality agreements: Thanks to WHO-TV’s reporting, we found out Chet Culver’s administration did eight confidentiality agreements. Now, at least five have been discovered from the Vilsack administration.
There is no “blacklist” or “do not hire” list: AFSCME union head and Democrat hack Danny Homan claimed there is a “blacklist” of former state employees who are barred from working for the state in the future. The Register, naturally, regurgitated this accusation without researching it.
Carroll says no blacklist, or any kind of list, exists. There are two ways former state employees can be blocked from future state employment: They agree during mediated settlements not to apply for another state government job, or they fall under a section of Iowa Code which blocks their future employment by the state. This is simply a mark made on their employee file. No “list” exists, anywhere.
AFSCME head Danny Homan signed a confidentiality agreement: The union chief himself signed off on a confidentiality agreement for a state employee during the Culver administration. The Democrats’ hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Confidentiality agreements are wrong: Although this is common practice in the private sector, government should be open and transparent. So, the Iowa House has passed a ban on the agreements, along with Governor Branstad’s executive order, the practice has come to an end.
Jack Hatch disappears when the news does not look so good for his side: Although the Democrat gubernatorial hopeful place himself front and center and Wednesday’s hearing when disgruntled ex-employees were bashing the Branstad administration, Hatch showed little interest in hearing the other side.
The Des Moines senator showed up for the meeting late, stood in the corner for less than ¼ of the meeting and quietly scurrie away when he saw the truth was a far cry from what he hoped.
This entire episode is a manufactured scandal: 95% of what was reported in the liberal media (primarily the Des Moines Register) and claimed by Iowa Democrats about this trumped up controversy is untrue. The one real issue, confidentiality agreements, has been addressed and fixed.
However, you can expect the partisan witch hunt to continue, because it is an election year and Iowa Democrats are desperate.
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