Governor Kim Reynolds has kept one of three positions on Iowa’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) vacant for more than a year, and since October has ensured the board operates with Republican members only.
By law, the board that handles public sector labor relations “shall consist of three members appointed by the governor,” of whom no more than two “shall be of the same political affiliation.” Reynolds has left one position unfilled since August 2020 and recently replaced Democrat Mary Gannon with Republican Jane Dufoe. She serves alongside Erik Helland, a longtime Republican and former state lawmaker.
The current situation runs counter to the spirit of PERB’s partisan balance requirement and potentially allows Reynolds to circumvent the Iowa Senate confirmation process, by shifting board members who are not confirmed to an open position.
In addition, state salary records show Reynolds’ GOP appointees to PERB immediately earned higher pay than Gannon, despite the Democrat’s years of experience. For decades, under Republican and Democratic governors, PERB members not chairing the board had received identical salaries.
The governor’s communications director Alex Murphy confirmed Dufoe’s party affiliation in September, then did not respond to eight follow-up inquiries about the PERB appointments over a three-month period.