Des Moines – One of the signs an elected official has been in office too long is when he or she acts above the law and begins to abuse power in order to benefit friends and punish enemies.
This has been a bad week for Terry Branstad as more and more information comes out about the scandals and controversies that have plagued his administration for the last three weeks. Terry Branstad has become the poster child for the cozy, crony-friendly politician who believes he answers to no one.
Whether it’s secret settlements to cover up political cronyism, hush money, directors pressuring judges, or the unconstitutional closure of the juvenile home, this spring has been one Branstad would like desperately to forget. His answers are like a Riverdance of “I didn’t know” and “I learned about it in the paper” as he tries to evade responsibility for each new scandal.
“We’re seeing mess after mess and Iowans have zero tolerance for this kind of government,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan. “Acting above the law and abusing your power to benefit your friends and punish your enemies may work for Chris Christie in New Jersey, but Iowans are just not going to stand for it.”
This week’s highlights in the ongoing dance that is Branstad-world:
- DAS Director Didn’t Know Much. Mike Carroll, Gov. Branstad’s Director of the Department of Administrative Services, testified in front of the Government Oversight Committee hearing, where he accused the people he fired of lying about their terminations, and made several unbelievable innuendos about state employees – all to try and deflect from the Branstad Administration’s apparent politically motivated campaign to fire state employees and replace them with their political cronies.
- Where Did the Hush-Money Come From? Branstad refuses to determine where the money for the settlement deals came from, but was reported that secret settlements to former state employees who were fired and replaced with political cronies were paid from accounts meant to cover efforts to retrofit government buildings. The Governor has yet to hold anyone accountable and still refuses to consider an independent review to determine whether any laws were broken. Only more questions are now being raised on the culture of cronyism and political retribution plaguing the halls of Terrace Hill – and, in the words of Terry Branstad, “Iowans deserve to know.”
- IWD Director Faces Lawsuit. Thursday a lawsuit was filed against Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert for allegedly firing two employees who stood up to her efforts to force administrative law judges to make more pro-business rulings. And Tuesday’s legislative oversight committee hearing concluded nothing except for that fact that no one has been identified as key players responsible for the agreements and that a serious underlying issue lingers in the Branstad administration.