Iowa leader’s ‘sidekick’ was fired over retaliating against harassment victim

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Finance Authority fired its lobbyist for retaliating against a woman who reported being sexually harassed by its director.

The agency has belatedly released its Sept. 27 letter terminating government relations director Wes Peterson.

An investigation ordered by Gov. Kim Reynolds found Peterson was aware of wrongdoing by his friend, director Dave Jamison, but failed to report it.

The was the same report that labeled Iowa Title Guaranty Director Tara Lawrence as an enabler of Jamison. She decided to step down from her position on Tuesday, saying “It’s hard to work for an organization that treats its staff that way.”

Read: 2nd official leaving Iowa agency after report on harassment

The report portrayed Peterson as a “sidekick” who drank with Jamison and witnessed him grabbing a colleague’s breasts in 2016. Peterson allegedly yelled at the victim after Jamison was fired in March, demanding to know whether she had filed a complaint with Reynolds. He warned that he’d falsely claim he was too drunk to remember the incident.

The termination letter says Peterson “engaged in retaliatory conduct” toward the woman in violation of work rules. His attorney says the report contains unspecified inaccuracies.

An agency spokeswoman says the letter’s delayed release was due to an oversight.

Reynolds helped Peterson land his job after he worked on the 2010 governor campaign.