I’m perplexed at how anyone could insinuate that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is not serious about addressing sexual harassment, but Kathie Obradovich at The Des Moines Register found a way.
She makes three primary complaints, one of which she based on false information.
Complaint #1: Reynolds distanced herself from Kirsten Anderson’s lawsuit against Iowa Senate Republicans.
Reynolds at first tried to distance herself from the Senate’s lawsuit, even though she was a state senator at the time Kirsten Anderson was fired in 2013. She argued that the Legislature was a separate branch of government and therefore, all she could do was stress that the state has a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment.
This is absolutely false. Reynolds was sworn in as Lt. Governor in 2011, so no, she was not a state senator at the time Iowa Senate Republicans fired Anderson.
Here’s the screenshot of this claim that I’m sure this will eventually (I hope) be corrected. I can’t believe that both Obradovich and her editor missed this.
Reynolds is right; the executive branch does have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment. She does not have any power over what the legislative branch does. She cannot enforce policy for legislative branch employees. Sexual harassment policies do not trump the Iowa Constitution’s separation of powers – Constitution 101.
Complaint #2: She did not call for former Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s resignation.
She refused to call for the resignation of Sen. Bill Dix, who approved Anderson’s firing, or any other Senate employee who was involved in the incident. By last November, however, she was calling for Senate GOP leaders to publicly release any new details uncovered by their investigation into new harassment allegations raised during Anderson’s lawsuit.
So because she refused to call for Dix’s resignation, she’s somehow mamby pamby about sexual harassment? First, perhaps she thought it was prudent to let Senate Republicans decide whether they needed a new leader. Second, a public spat would undermine her agenda. While it makes for great headlines, all it would end up being is a distraction for what she hoped to accomplish. If Dix did not want to resign, no amount of pressure from the Governor’s office would change that. Third, Obradovich has zero clue as to what Reynolds said to Dix or Republican state senators behind the scenes.
I agree with Obradovich that Dix’s handling of Anderson’s complaints, her firing, and the botched lawsuit response was abysmal. Had Dix been accused of sexual harassment himself, I’m sure that Reynolds would have called for his resignation (the Senate Republican Caucus would have beat her to it I’m sure). His sin was abysmal leadership.
Using this as a measuring stick for her commitment to ending sexual harassment in state government is silly.
Complaint #3: She did not provide details about Dave Jamison’s firing.
It seems like it should be possible for Reynolds to disclose how many accusers are involved without revealing who they are. She could describe the time period the alleged harassment took place and whether it started or continued after Jamison took the state-mandated sexual harassment training course.
Was Jamison accused of making unwelcome advances? Is the claim that he touched someone inappropriately or that he made suggestive comments? Did the accusers ask him to stop and if so, did he persist?
Why do we need details?
I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of seeing salacious details of sexual harassment cases in the news. How much information do we need to know? While I’ve been publically critical of President Trump’s extramarital relationships, I was appalled at how many journalists I saw on Twitter looking forward to what Stormy Daniels had to say on 60 Minutes. I opted not to watch. I don’t need to know details to know an affair is wrong and trying to buy her silence is wrong.
In the case of Jamison, I’m sure Reynolds does have the victims in mind. I’m also sure she’s trying to protect Jamison’s wife, kids, and grandkids who are also victims of his behavior and will have to deal with it long after he is out of the news cycle. You can’t send a stronger message than firing the head of a state agency.
Obradovich is straining at gnats.
Update: Obradovich (or her editor) did edit the factual error. See screenshot below:
I have a policy when I make a factual error that I update it with a retraction. Apparently (at least at the time of this update) The Des Moines Register doesn’t have a similar policy.