Branstad calls secret settlement agreements “unacceptable”

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Iowa Governor Terry Granstad says secret settlement agreements, some with employees who claim they were fired for political reasons, will not happen again.

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

The workers alleged “widespread” cronyism and filed grievances with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board. The complaints alleged financial incentives and confidentiality agreements were part of the agreements, and that the money was paid from state agencies instead of through the state’s appeal board.

Branstad said an internal review confirmed the terminations were not based on political affiliation. Of 321 settlements executed since he took office in January 2011, 24 included confidentiality requirements and 10 involved settlement payments. So far, no managers faced disciplinary action in connection with the settlements and confidentiality agreements.

Branstad said the practice would not happen again.

“This practice of keeping information from the taxpayers is unacceptable and wrong,” Branstad said at his weekly news conference held Monday, March 24, 2014 in Des Moines. He says the settlements cannot be kept confidential under state law, and that Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller agrees with that assessment.

Branstad said he signed Executive Order 85, which will end the use of confidentiality agreements and make details of employee settlements available to the public online.