‘It’s not safe for women to be around him’: Letter that led to firing of Iowa Finance Authority director released

Dave Jamison — official Iowa Finance Authority photo

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office reversed its previous stated position, and released the letter that led the governor to fire Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) Director Dave Jamison last month. The governor’s office had originally responded to an open records request from the Associated Press that it had no written documents related to the firing. Just hours after the AP reported that denial on Monday, the governor’s office acknowledged it did have a letter of complaint about Jamison, but said it would not release it, in order to protect the identity of the person who wrote it.

The writer’s name and other personal information was redacted from the March 21 letter, which is addressed to the governor. The letter begins:

I want to make you and others aware that Dave Jamison has been sexually harassing me and others in the office for years. I am terrified about coming forward, but his behavior is escalating and has to stop. It is not safe for women to be around him.

I literally don’t feel safe.

[Underscoring in the original.]

The writer goes on to describe more than 25 disturbing incidents of sexual harassment, many of which she says Jamison did quite openly in front of others. She concludes by apologizing to the governor: “I know you’re friends with Dave and I hate to put this on your shoulders, but I just can’t take it anymore. I think DAS will just cover for him and I’ll end up without a job. Please help me or tell me who to go to.”

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS) is the state agency charged with handling employment issues. It makes sense that the writer would lack confidence in the agency since, according to her letter, senior officials in the IFA were aware of Jamison’s actions and did nothing but offer mild verbal warnings to the director.

According to the letter, “IFA’s general Counsel Mark Thompson often tells Dave that he needs to stop it or be quiet,” and “Brian Crozier, our Chief Administrative Officer, recently reprimanded Dave for saying these things. Dave replied, ‘You must be allergic to a paycheck.’ I understood this to be a threat of retaliation.”

Jamison was fully aware that his behavior constituted sexual harassment, according to the letter. “After he makes an offensive comment, he’ll say, ‘I forgot, Matt Lauer told me not to say that’ or ‘Did you hear, I hired the law firm of Lauer, Weinstein, and Franken to represent me?’”

The letter also alleges that Jamison created a racist atmosphere at work, as well as sexually threatening one: “Dave tells sexist and racist jokes and expects you to go along with them or else he treats you poorly.”

Jamison was appointed director of the IFA, the state agency tasked with promoting home ownership among low- and moderate-income Iowans and administering loan programs for agricultural and economic development, by Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011. The previous year, Jamison had been the Republican Party nominee for state treasurer.

Along with the letter, Reynolds released a statement on Thursday, saying she had only released the letter after receiving permission from the writer to do so. “It should only be released on the victim’s terms and no one else’s,” the governor said.

Experts on the state’s open record law, including Randy Evans, the executive director of Iowa Freedom of Information Council, dispute the governor’s claim that the letter, or other documents, related to the firing of Jamison can be withheld.

“The public records law trumps administrative rules or the governor’s own policy on confidentiality,” Evan wrote on Wednesday.

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