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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Will GOP hopefuls disavow Failor's Nazi analogy?

Three Republicans who may run for governor attended a June 15 event in Boone featuring Ed Failor, leader of Iowans for Tax Relief. During a typical Republican speech about how Democrats are wrecking the country, Failor went beyond boilerplate rhetoric and likened Democratic economic policies to events in Nazi Germany in 1933.

Iowa Democratic Party leaders want to know whether State Representative Chris Rants, State Senator Jerry Behn, and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey agree with Failor’s analogy. After the jump I’ve posted an action alert asking Iowa Democrats to contact Behn, Rants and Northey to ask them if they agree with Failor’s remarks, and if not, why they didn’t speak up at the time.

The Boone News Republican followed up on the story today and posted a longer excerpt from Failor’s speech. I’ve posted that after the jump as well, though from where I’m sitting the larger context doesn’t make him look any less unhinged.

I doubt any Republican will distance himself from Failor. Iowans for Tax Relief and its members could be helpful during next year’s gubernatorial primary. Speaking to the Boone Times Republican, Behn dismissed the incident as much ado about nothing. Failor’s in no mood to apologize either:

“I was very careful to say that I like Pat Murphy, he is a good guy,” Failor said.

When you have a political disagreement with a “good guy” you like, do you say he is “behaving as a jack-booted Nazi”? Neither do I.

Failor added that he completely stands by his statement. He said that previous examples of political parties that succeed in taking too much power never end up being successful, or good for a country’s well-being.

“When you try to find an example of one party, normally by election and fairly, taking over means of production, it never works out well,” Failor said. “I stand by that, if you are a student of history you will know there is no example of that where it didn’t go terribly wrong eventually. And, in many cases, it started with the best of intentions.”

Can’t say that I’m too impressed by Failor as a “student of history.”

Only three states (Iowa, Louisiana and Alabama) allow citizens to deduct their federal tax payments on their state income tax returns. Yet to Failor, Democratic efforts to make our tax code more like laws in 47 other states is tantamount to “taking over means of production.” Ejecting people who were disrupting a public hearing from the legislative chamber is comparable to how Nazis treated their political opponents.

I don’t pretend to understand the psychological need to elevate a dispute over tax policy into some heroic struggle against dictatorship. I doubt dire warnings about fascism (or Marxism, depending on your paranoid mood) are going to scare Iowans back into electing Republicans.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

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