Gov. Kim Reynolds is refusing to explain what led her to fire the director of the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) last month.
When the governor’s office announced the firing of IFA Director Dave Jamison on Saturday, March 24, it issued a press release stating: “On Friday evening, the governor’s office was made aware of credible allegations of sexual harassment against Director Jamison.”
The statement included no information regarding the nature of the allegations or what, if any, fact-finding process the governor engaged in to verify the allegations before firing the head of the agency that assists low- and moderate-income Iowans in affording homes.
The Associated Press filed a request for documents about Jamison’s firing using Iowa’s open records law. On Monday morning, the AP reported that the governor’s office “said it had no evidence showing why the allegations against Jamison were considered credible and created no records detailing why he was terminated on March 24.” Later that day, the governor’s office changed its story.
On Monday afternoon, the AP’s Ryan Foley and Barbara Rodriguez reported the governor’s office had reversed itself and acknowledged it did have a written complaint against Jamison, but said it would not release it, claiming the complaint is not subject to the open records law. The governor’s office said it was withholding the written record in order to protect those who complained about Jamison.
Reynolds said earlier Monday that she doesn’t have to give any further reason for the termination because Jamison was a political appointee who could be fired for any reason. She also defended her decision not to recuse herself from the matter despite her longstanding work and political ties to Jamison.
“I have a lot of friends and colleagues that I have worked with over the years. We said we had a zero-tolerance policy and that means that applies to everybody,” Reynolds told reporters.
According to Foley and Rodriguez, the governor’s office claimed the earlier denial of an existing written record was the result of an “office error.”
This is the latest embarrassment related to sexual harassment for Iowa Republicans. The Republican caucus in the state Senate has been grappling with how to eliminate sexual harassment in the caucus following a jury awarding a former Senate staffer $2.2 million for the hostile workplace she endured and for being fired after filing a complaint about it. A legislative clerk for Republican Senator Waylon Brown was fired earlier this month for engaging in sexual harassment. The clerk, Jake Dagel, had completed a new, mandatory training course on sexual harassment shortly before he was fired.
During her weekly press conference on Monday, Reynolds was asked about a sex-related scandal involving Missouri’s Republican governor, Eric Greitens. Greitens has been charged with a felony resulting from an allegation that he blackmailed a married woman with whom he had an affair, threatening to release a nude photo he had taken of her against her will, after he stripped her and duct-taped her to a piece of exercise equipment in his basement.
Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of Illinois, has called on Greitens to resign. Asked for her opinion, Reynolds told reporters, “I am the governor of Iowa, not the governor of Missouri, and it is not my place to weigh in on every scandal, every tweet, every comment.”
Greitens was the featured speaker at the Reynolds gubernatorial campaign’s first fundraiser in October, creating speculation that he was preparing to run for president in 2020. Reynolds made headlines at that fundraiser for telling supporters, “As we all know as we travel the state, the liberals are unhinged and they are out for us.”