Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 4, 2014

Heartsill reports on oversight hearings

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Pleasantville — Rep. Greg Heartsill, a member of the House Government Oversight Committee, has been hearing testimony from Mike Carroll of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services and former State employees who received confidential settlements. 

In response to the revelation that thousands of taxpayer dollars have been provided to former employees through confidential settlement agreements, hearings were called for. Gov. Terry Branstad has filed an executive order to put a stop to such agreements, while Heartsill and fellow legislators spent a late night this week crafting HF2462, which bans the practice of confidential settlement agreements. (http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&menu=false&hbill=HF2462)

During the hearings, Carroll testified that no laws were broken by the Branstad Administration. The settlements may have saved taxpayer money by not engaging former employees in long legal battles. As for Branstad, Carroll believes that the governor responded appropriately, when he learned of the settlements. Staff members, participating the settlements, were maintaining the status quo.

"He was merely following a systemic practice that had been done in previous administrations," Heartsill said. Staff just failed to follow Branstad's push for greater transparency in government, Heartsill added. Carroll said this would not happen again. 

Heartsill expressed disappointment with the actions of the Senate's Oversight Committee, which scheduled meetings and hearings without first consulting the House. Oversight committees in both chambers are expected to collaborate when scheduling such things. 

He also indicated that he believes the Senate Democrats are only interested in bringing "sunshine" to actions that make political hay. Heartsill reiterated that no "hush money" was paid, there is no "blacklist" and there was no violation of state law. He was complimentary of the work Carroll, a Branstad appointee, has done, since taking over the DAS. 

Heartsill and Sen. Amy Sinclair are scheduled to be at Tasos in Knoxville at 4 p.m. Friday, April 4.