Michael Reagen

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Wanted: Ethical behavior in public service

From left: Governor Robert Ray’s daughter Randi, David Oman, Bill Crews, Richard Gilbert, Julie Gammack (Photo by John McCarroll)

Michael V. Reagen, Ph.D. was Commissioner of Iowa’s Department of Human Services and President of the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce. He is retired and lives in Naples, Florida.

The former staff to the Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray gathered in late September at the Drake University Center bearing his name to honor the anniversary of his 95th birthday and his legacy. The event made me recall Thomas Jefferson’s quote: “I consider ethics, as well as religion, as supplements to law in the government of man.”

Bob Ray was an iconic example of ethical accountability, professionalism, and servant leadership during his fourteen years as governor and in retirement, when he continued to make extensive civic contributions.

The essence of Ray’s ethical legacy reaffirmed Jefferson’s quote and stands out in sharp relief to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former U.S. Representative George Santos, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, who have been in the news lately.

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