Former Iowa employees claim cronyism by Branstad administration

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Branstad and Reynolds photo from the Iowa Republican

Six former state employees were reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of secret settlement deals when their jobs were eliminated.

Some of the six former Iowa employees claimed their merit-based state jobs were eliminated because they have ties to the Democratic party, according to the Des Moines Register.  Merit-based employees have certain legal rights concerning their job security.

The state says the job eliminations were part of cost-saving reorganization, and not politically motivated.

The six terminated employees each made more than $80,000 in annual salary from their jobs with the State of Iowa.

Some of the laid off workers said they were immediately replaced with at-will workers, whose job security was not as protected as that of a merit-based employee.  At least one of the terminated workers believed replacing a merit-based employee with an at-will worker violated Iowa law.

The workers, who claim the Branstad administration embraced “widespread Republican cronyism,” have filed grievance complaints with the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board.   The terminations reportedly came with financial settlements, and the fired employees were asked to sign confidentiality agreements concerning the settlements.  The workers said they were given extra financial incentives to keep the settlements secret.

The settlements went unnoticed because they were made through state agencies instead of using the usual process requiring approval through the Iowa Appeal Board, according to the Des Moines Register report.

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds said Monday, March 17, 2014 that neither she nor Branstad knew anything about the secret settlements.  Gov. Branstad was away on a family vacation that day, but reports issued later in the day said Branstad ordered a comprehensive review of his administration’s policies concerning confidentiality agreements and possible settlements paid to former workers.