DES MOINES, Iowa — Democratic State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald says Governor Kim Reynolds is washing her hands of responsibility for leaders in her party.
On Tuesday former Senate Republican Caucus Communications Director Kirsten Anderson was awarded $2.2 million by a Polk County jury after she sued the state claiming she was fired for complaining about years of sexual harassment.
On Thursday Fitzgerald released this statement about the role he says Governor Reynolds plays in the controversy:
“This week a jury called for an award of over $2 million to a former state employee because the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus violated laws preventing workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation. That is a $2 million expense that will be added to the already strapped Iowa budget. As state treasurer, I’m concerned about Iowa’s financial situation and additionally Iowa’s leadership.
When the leader of our state was asked about the case, Governor Reynolds said she had “no control” over how the legislative branch enforces its policies. Governor Reynolds is the highest ranking Republican in the state of Iowa. While she may not be able to enforce the legislature’s policies, she can certainly lead by setting the right tone for fairness and professionalism in all levels of state government.
The behavior of her party leaders cost the state over $2 million. This isn’t just about politics; this is about two very important things: how we treat people and how we spend our money. Iowa lacks the leadership needed to simply admit that the behavior was wrong and strongly push for changes that are swift and visible. A positive work environment is essential to protect employees and taxpayers.”
Reynolds was a Republican Senator at the time of many of Anderson’s sexual harassment accusations. Reynolds say she was not witness to any of the harassment. On Wednesday Republican Senator Rick Bertrand called on Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, a fellow Republican, to step down from his position. On Thursday Senate President Jack Whitver announced he fully supports Dix’s leadership. Dix was not leader at the time of Anderson’s harassment claims.
The Attorney General’s office says it is still reviewing the judgement issued this week in Anderson’s favor. The state could choose to appeal the verdict.