Iowa GOP’s chairman goes to bat for Branstad

The wrangling over allegations of mismanagement in Governor Terry Branstad’s administration heated up today with news conferences, proposed resolutions and the following public records request from recently-elected Iowa GOP chairman Danny Carroll:

Carroll Launches Formal Open Records Request Seeks to End Government Oversight Committee’s Double-Standard

DES MOINES, Iowa- Former Iowa House Speaker Pro Tem, and current Iowa GOP Chairman Danny Carroll today is requesting the documents and e-mails of Sen. Janet Petersen, Sen. Jack Hatch and Sen. Matt McCoy to determine what, if any, political motivations are behind the Government Oversight Committee’s investigation into the Department of Administrative Services.

“It strikes me as disingenuous for Democrats to launch a partisan investigation while hiding behind “legislative privilege” to never release their own communications,” said Carroll.  “In the spirit of openness and transparency, I am formally asking these specific legislators to comply with the will of the people and turn over all pertinent documents.”

Carroll made the request via a formal open records request dated Monday, April 14, 2014. Terms included within Carroll’s request include (FYI:  I, O. Kay Henderson, have added info in case you don’t recognize some of the names):

• Settlements

• Confidential

• Hush Money

• Mike Carroll  (FYI: he is the fired DAS director)

• Danny Homan (FYI: he is president of AFSCME Council 61)

• Marcia Nichols (FYI: she is a lobbyist for AFSCME Council 61)

• Campaign

• Dean Ibesen (FYI: he is one of the fired DAS merit employees who provided a document showing he was offered additional $$ to keep his settlement secret)

• Carol Frank (FYI: she is one of the fired DAS merit employees whose attorney provided the email exchange with former DAS legal counsel Ryan Lamb about the additional $6500 she was offered as part of her legal settlement to keep it secret; those documents led Branstad to fire Mike Carroll)

• Tony Schultz (FYI: he is one of the fired DAS merit employees)

• Ken Thornton (FYI: he is one of the fired DAS merit employees)

“This investigation risks becoming a farce if legislative Democrats fail to hold themselves to the same standards as the administration,” said Carroll.  “The separation of powers should be held to the same level of common transparency. If these legislators have nothing to hide, I suggest they begin compiling the requested documents and immediately release them for the public to see.  Let’s level this playing field and have a full examination of the facts on all sides.

“Thus far, there are some who appear to be willing to stall the session as a political tactic, said Carroll.” It appears to me that recent efforts by the Senate Oversight Committee serve more as political posturing than in determining facts.

It’s worth noting Danny Carroll and Branstad have had a sometimes tense past. Carroll endorsed Bob Vander Plaats in the 2010 GOP Primary. Carroll was not Branstad’s choice for party chairman, either.

House Democrats held a news conference moments before the Carroll statement was issued. They’re calling for an independent prosecutor to investigate Branstad’s administration on several fronts.  You can listen to their news conference here.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, the top Republican in the legislature, issued the following written statement in response to the news conference:

“If House Democrats were serious about bringing more transparency to the oversight process then they would have supported House File 2462 which goes a long way to answering the question as to why these settlements occurred in the first place.  Their resolution accomplishes nothing.  It is simply a new act in the Democrats’ political theater.”

State Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines who is the only Democrat running for governor and is likely to face-off against Branstad in November, held a news conference this morning, too.  You can listen to it here. Below is his written statement:

DES MOINES – Sen. Jack Hatch, candidate for Governor, in a statehouse news conference Monday laid out four basic principles of management Gov. Branstad has completely failed to use, and that would guide a Hatch administration in ending Branstad’s mess and restoring the kind of strong executive leadership Iowans have rightly come to expect from state Government.

The full text of Hatch’s statement as prepared:

“I love this state.  Gov. Branstad and I may be political opponents, but there’s something more at stake here.  I will not sit by and watch the state government I’ve put so much time into become one big mess.

The Governor has been asleep at the switch and seemingly unable to know what’s wrong in his administration before it’s reported in the media.  This is what happens when you have someone who’s been in office too long and whose administration includes people who act above the law and abuse their power.

I want this government to get past this mess and work toward a better, more affluent, healthier and more meaningful life for every single Iowan.  That’s been my work in Government for 22 years and I’m prepared and ready to right this ship.

So today I’m offering to help Governor Branstad get this state back on track and get this government functioning again.

I have an MPA from Drake here in Des Moines and have managed large entities in the public and private sectors for the last two decades.  Right now I’m finishing up work on the Health and Human Services budget, the largest of the appropriations bills.  I’ve done for the past 8 years.

I know how to lead and I’m trained and experienced in how to manage large public enterprises.   And I promise you this, when I’m Governor we will do better, much better.

For now, this is free advice offered to the Governor about four principles of management he should employ immediately to end this mess and get Iowa back on track.

The four principles are:

1. Planning – State government should plan a strategy to open up all of the trails of the confidential settlements and hush money payments wherever they occurred.

2. Organizing – Within the executive branch there is a lack of integrity that means we need to bring in an outside independent reviewer, and auditor, to investigate fully.  This will provide impartial organization to this investigation.

3. Implementation – Every department director should report back to the Governor on a full investigation conducted within their department related to questionable personnel management practices and anyone who was involved no matter how high up the chain it goes.

4. Control – to ensure respectability and integrity of our state government, and to ensure the investigation is nonpartisan and not driven by outside politics, he should share all the information gathered with Iowa’s the Attorney General, who serves as the legal representative of the executive branch, who can then make decisions about whether there is culpability and for whom.  The Attorney General can provide the best legal advice.

These are the steps I would already have taken as Governor.  It’s so hard to watch what’s happening to Iowa’s Government now, and I look forward to restoring some competent leadership.

If there was ever a time for someone who knows how to make Government work, this is it.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.