SECRET SETTLEMENTS: Is There A Mastermind?

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Governor Branstad strongly pushed back on Monday critics' claims he's not in charge of state government.

Top state officials had signed off on confidential agreements with dismissed state workers.

Iowans had been largely in the dark about two dozen settlements with dismissed state workers since Terry Branstad came back into office.

Now that what's inside them has come to light, critics have lit into the governor.

“This is beyond the pale,” former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge told Channel 13. “I just don't understand why governor Branstad would do this."

The documents reveal payments of nearly $500,000 to former employees.
But that’s not the only troubling aspect.

Department of Inspections and Appeals Director Rod Roberts' name is on the previously confidential document.

Mariannette Miller Meeks, who had been the director of the health department, signed it and the former Department of Natural Resources leader.

In all, people who hold top spots in a dozen different areas of state government put their signatures on the bottom of these settlements saying they agreed to the terms.

With the settlements being so widespread it begs the question -- if there are so many top officials at so many agencies, departments, and commissions scattered all throughout the state government, does that mean there's somebody in the middle who shared this information and told them how to do these settlements?

The governor claims no.

“There is no mastermind behind this. There were mistakes that were made contrary to the policy and the commitment of this administration to openness and transparency,” Gov. Branstad said.

The governor says he didn't tell his leaders to do it and didn't know they did it.

He grew the most animated yet since word of these settlements spread when asked if he's ultimately in charge of state government.

“You bet. And I’ve taken action. You bet. And the buck stops... first of all, let me say this. I have taken action of all of these incidents. I am the chief executive of this state. I take my responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of Iowans very personally,” the Governor said.

Senate Democrats hold oversight hearings at the statehouse Wednesday and Thursday regarding these settlements.


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