Bill Dix: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Tracy Freese: In the private sector, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s handling of a sexual harassment scandal would have gotten him fired and escorted from the building. Freese is Dix’s Democratic challenger in Iowa Senate district 25. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix has been hailed as a nice guy. That façade cracked during Tuesday’s press conference with Iowa media outlets. The exchange began nicely enough; Mr. Dix came off as friendly and humble. He played the lovable fool and reminded me of the neighbor you would expect to sell ten boxes of Girl Scout cookies to.

But by the end of his time in front of the cameras and microphones, his demeanor took a turn for the worse.

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Iowans left in the dark on Senate GOP sexual harassment investigation

Iowa Senate Republican leaders have never acknowledged that Kirsten Anderson faced sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation while working for the Senate GOP caucus.

They have stuck to the unconvincing story that Anderson lost her job (hours after she had submitted a written complaint about a hostile work environment) solely because of her writing skills.

They didn’t allow an independent investigation of the allegations Anderson raised in a lawsuit, which a Polk County jury unanimously found credible.

They aren’t releasing any findings from an internal investigation of those allegations.

They have ensured that the legislature’s new human resources director will report to Republican political appointees.

Yet they want us to take their word for it that harassment at the statehouse will not be tolerated.

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Lawsuit over Iowa Senate Republican harassment will be settled

Attorneys for the state and a former Iowa Senate Republican staffer have agreed to settle a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register today. In July, a Polk County jury awarded Kirsten Anderson $1.4 million for past emotional distress and $795,000 for future emotional distress, after hearing testimony about a hostile workplace environment and alleged discrimination and retaliation within the Senate GOP caucus.

Under the settlement, Anderson will receive $1.045 million, and the state will pay an additional $705,000 for her attorneys’ fees.

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Baby steps: Iowa Senate GOP responds to sexual harassment verdict

Nearly two months after a jury awarded former Iowa Senate Republican communications director Kirsten Anderson $2.2 million in a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, the Senate GOP caucus has finally parted ways with the man who most egregiously contributed to a hostile work environment for women.

However, senators who have claimed Anderson lost her job because of substandard writing still aren’t demanding high-caliber work from current communications staff.

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Iowa Senate Republicans hold no one accountable for sexual harassment case

Iowa Senate Republicans voted last Friday to make no changes in the caucus’s staff or leadership, following a sexual harassment lawsuit that led to a $2.2 million verdict against the state. Instead, Secretary of the Senate Charlie Smithson will internally review allegations that came to light through Kirsten Anderson’s lawsuit, with the chamber’s number two Republican, Senate President Jack Whitver, “overseeing the investigation.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix has claimed repeatedly that any problems relating to a hostile work environment were resolved soon after he took charge of the Senate GOP caucus in late 2012. But court testimony indicated that neither senators nor top Republican staffers ever asked others employed by the caucus whether they had observed sexual harassment or other offensive workplace conduct. Although Dix admitted hearing about matters “I was not aware of” during the trial, he still insists Anderson was fired in May 2013 solely because of her work product. Meanwhile, the current Iowa Senate Republican communications staffers occupy themselves with who-knows-what, as opposed to keeping the website and social media feeds current.

Dix confirmed that Republicans will not cover the costs of any payout to Anderson, opting to let taxpayers foot the bill for the lack of professionalism that persisted for years.

Republicans’ failure to hold anyone accountable for this debacle underscores the need for independent consultants to take a hard look at what happened in the Senate GOP caucus and how to fix the work environment. Anderson has asked a Polk County District Court to make that happen.

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