- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz allowed three departing political appointees to work from home without completing the required agreements governing such arrangements, his office confirmed Wednesday.

Schultz’s office told The Associated Press that it didn’t sign “telework agreements” with former chief deputy Jim Gibbons, assistant director of business services Todd Henderson or communications director Stephanie Laudner before allowing them to remain on the payroll while working from home before they resigned.

A state policy requires that all employees who work from home must first execute written agreements with their managers setting the terms and conditions of the arrangements. Those agreements must address eight specific points, including the benefit the state will get from the deal, the duties the employee is expected to perform and the work days and hours of the telework site.

Schultz’s office said the Department of Administrative Services advised that those three employees could remain on the payroll from home as long as they were available for phone calls and questions.

“At no time did DAS state that these employees needed a telework plan,” the office said in a statement.

DAS spokesman Caleb Hunter said earlier this month that the department only gave Schultz’s office general guidance - none involving specific employees - and pointed out the detailed telework policy on the agency’s website. He said that Schultz, a Republican who is leaving the office to run for Congress, was ultimately responsible for hiring decisions and the work product of his appointees.

The Associated Press first reported last month that Schultz allowed Gibbons to stay in his job with a $126,000 annual salary for seven months in 2012 after taking away his management responsibilities and eliminating his job. Gibbons stayed home for a month, and then was required to report to the office four days per week for the final six months. It’s not clear what, if any, work he did while collecting $80,000 in pay, including a $4,000 payout for unused vacation. Some days he left shortly after arriving.

Schultz later acknowledged that he allowed Henderson to work from home for three months after he agreed to resign in 2012, and that Laudner stayed on the payroll for a month before she resigned the prior year.

Schultz said that he approved all three arrangements with DAS blessing after learning that severance pay was not allowed under state rules. He complained that “liberals in the media” were unfairly attacking him for following the advice of state personnel experts, and said he deserved to be thanked for saving money by cutting jobs.

Gibbons and Henderson have not responded to media inquiries for weeks. Laudner denied that she had any work-from-home arrangement, saying she quit because Schultz was doing little press outreach and she was being paid to do nothing. Schultz denied that, saying she was asked to resign for performance issues.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman confirmed Wednesday that her office will conduct a review requested by Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Robins, into Schultz’s arrangement with Gibbons. Mosiman wrote in a letter to Mathis that she believed “the public will benefit from a review and factual analysis of the circumstances” of Gibbons‘ seven-month deal.

Mosiman said that she would recuse herself since she was Schultz’s other deputy at the time and took over Gibbons‘ duties. Her chief deputy, Warren Jenkins, will have the responsibility for the audit. In previous interviews, Mosiman said that she objected to the arrangement with Gibbons, particularly after four union employees were laid off during that time, but that her concerns were ignored.