It turns out Team Branstad was paying former employees hush money to stay silent about why they were terminated. Probably because the firings were illegal. Emails uncovered by The Des Moines Register show an approved payment of 6,500 dollars to one ex-staffer, among dozens.
From The Daily Beast:
Terry Branstad is a political Goliath. The five-term Iowa governor has been the dominant figure in the Hawkeye State’s politics for decades. Branstad has never lost an election and is perhaps the longest-serving governor in American history. But after 19 years in office (16 from 1982 to 1998 before returning to politics in 2010), Branstad has found himself in scandal after scandal after scandal.(my bold)
The most recent controversy that the Iowa governor has faced in recent weeks is an ongoing investigation about whether the state was firing employees for political reasons and then paying them to agree to confidentiality agreements about their termination. After long denying any irregularities, Branstad fired the senior state official responsible for these hush money payments last week. ...
Here is an excerpt from the Des Moines Register on Branstad's firing of his hush money guy:
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad today fired Mike Carroll, the head of the state's administrative department, hours after the Des Moines Register published documents showing he provided inaccurate testimony to state lawmakers.(my bold)
Carroll last week testified before a legislative oversight committee that no money had been paid to state employees from his department in exchange for their secrecy.
Documents made public today showed an exchange between a Department of Administrative Services lawyer and a lawyer for a former state attorney discussing payments as hush money.
Carroll, reached by phone, declined to comment:
"I don't want to talk. You can call the governor and ask him what happened," he said before hanging up.
Looks like Governor Branstad could use a confidentiality agreement from Mike Carroll. More from the article:
Since a Register investigation revealed that the Branstad administration was signing secret settlements with former state workers, officials have acknowledged entering into at least 24 such settlements that contained confidentiality agreements. Branstad has also denounced the practice and has ordered his department heads to quit making those deals.Mike Carroll sounds a bit like Iowa's version of David Samson. While serving as head of Iowa's Department of Administrative Services, he was also a contractor engaged in big business deals with the State. Sketchy!