Dave Jamison was independently warned by as many as three high-ranking executives of the Iowa Finance Authority to tame his sultry talk. Rodney White, [email protected]
Iowa agreed Monday to pay $4.1 million to settle claims from two women who say they were repeatedly sexually harassed by a former state director.
The Iowa Appeal Board voted 2-1 Monday to pay $2.3 million to settle harassment claims from the Iowa Finance Authority’s former business development director, Beth Mahaffey, and $1.8 million to settle claims from its current communications director, Ashley Jared.
The two accused former Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison of lewd and offensive behavior. No other employees have so far sought settlements in relation to Jamison’s alleged behavior.
“Coming forward to the governor about the sexual assault and harassment I was enduring by my then-executive director took every ounce of courage and strength I had,” Jared said in a statement Monday. “… I look forward to putting this behind me and moving forward alongside my talented coworkers in a safe, dignified and respectful workplace.”
The appeals board on Monday also approved a $1.6 million settlement to a former Iowa prison guard who said she was fired in 2016 after complaining that inmates had sexually harassed her.
At least one elected official is asking the state to go after harassers to repay the state so taxpayers don’t have to foot the entire bill.
“If harassers aren’t paying for their actions, neither should taxpayers,” Iowa Auditor Rob Sand said in voting against the settlement Monday.
Reynolds fired Jamison in March following allegations that he had made multiple vulgar and sexually inappropriate comments to female staffers.
Jamison — a longtime associate of the governor’s when they both worked as county treasurers — was fired without Reynolds or her staff investigating or asking questions, according to testimony in his unsuccessful unemployment hearing.
An investigation launched shortly after his termination concluded in September that Jamison had repeatedly engaged in brazen, sexually harassing and assaultive behavior aimed primarily at two female employees of the state agency.
At least once, Jamison grabbed the breasts of a female Finance Authority employee, the investigation found.
► Read more about the specific allegations against Jamison.
Both Jared and Mahaffey complimented Reynolds’ actions in their case.
“I came forward in desperation when I could no longer tolerate the dehumanization of myself and others,” Mahaffey said in a statement Monday.
A separate state audit in December found that the authority misspent $550,000 under Jamison’s leadership, which included improper payroll, credit card and travel purchases.
No criminal charges have been filed against Jamison or other employees identified in the audit.
Jared and Mahaffey mark the second and third sexual harassment settlements of more than $1 million paid by the state in the last two years in cases alleging employee misconduct.
The first resulted in a $1.75 million settlement to Kirsten Anderson, a former communications director for Senate Republicans who said she was fired in 2013 after speaking out against sexual harassment at the Capitol.
In another case Monday, the Iowa Appeal Board agreed to a $1.6 million settlement with Kristine Sink, a former Iowa prison guard who said she was retaliated against and ultimately fired in 2016 after complaining about sexual harassment from inmates.
Sink won a $2 million jury verdict last year, which was later reversed by the Iowa Court of Appeals. Iowa settled Monday rather than pursue another trial.
► Read the specific allegations against legislative staff and Iowa lawmakers.
Both Mahaffey and Jared had filed discrimination claims with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
They agreed not to pursue litigation as part of Monday’s settlements, which will be paid by Iowa’s general fund, although documents released Monday indicate that Reynolds will ask the Finance Authority to make the payments.
Taxpayers are on the hook regardless of the account used to make payment, the Iowa Appeal Board members noted Monday.
Sand voted against the settlements Monday, saying he believes they should outline the state’s possible intent to sue the fired director. That action could call for Mahaffey and Jared to testify and should be known as part of the settlement, he said.
“The question to me is what are we actually going to do to stop sexual harassment in Iowa government rather than just write checks,” Sand said.
Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and Iowa Department of Management Director Dave Roederer voted to finalize the settlements on the advice of Jeff Thompson, an attorney with the Iowa Attorney General’s office.
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