Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) and Senate President Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) released the Iowa Senate Republicans’ internal review of sexual harassment complaints within the Iowa Senate. This is in response to Iowa Senate Republicans over the summer lost a harassment lawsuit filed against them by former communications director Kirsten Anderson to the tune of $2.2 Million. They later settled for $1.75 million.
The internal review was conducted by W. Charles Smithson, Secretary of the Senate, and Mary Earnhardt, a senior aide to Whitver.
The review, at the advice of their attorney, Danielle Jess Haindfield of Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., they redacted the names of Senate employees and State Senators mentioned in the report.
The review found that sexual harassment prevention training is inadequate. They noted a couple of incidents of sexual harassment in 2012 and 2013. Also, Senate Republican Caucus staffers noted that “there is an environment on the Senate Floor with Senators making sexually suggestive comments or about sexual preferences” with one alleged instance happening during the 2017 session.
Several staff members stated they felt a fear of retaliation which is why they did not feel comfortable reporting instances of harassment.
“Our goal in releasing the review is to balance two competing concerns. The first concern is to be open with Iowans about the workplace issues in the Iowa Senate. The second concern is to protect the confidence of those individuals who shared this information with an expectation of confidentiality. Redactions have been made in consultation with legal counsel to protect confidential and personally identifiable information. In order to improve the workplace culture, employees need to know they can share their concerns without those issues being shared publicly. Publicizing those individuals could have a chilling effect on the willingness of employees to make reports of future incidents,” Dix and Whitver said in a released statement.
“We will continue to consult with Ambassador Kramer as we work to improve the workplace culture in the Iowa Senate. As this review shows, the workplace culture needs to improve, it can improve, and with a lot of hard work, it will improve,” they added.
Dix on Tuesday announced the appointment of former Ambassador Mary Kramer as an advisor to assist in their efforts to improve the workplace culture in the Iowa Senate.
Read the internal review below: