- Associated Press - Sunday, December 3, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Senate Republicans have announced a series of actions in recent weeks to respond to allegations of workplace sexual misconduct within the caucus. But questions remain, including on the details of an in-house investigation into allegations, the scope of work to be done by a former state senator and the nature of an ex-staffer’s departure.


Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s staff released a report last month summarizing an internal investigation into alleged misconduct within the caucus between the end of 2012 and mid-2017.

Dix initially refused to provide details, citing employee privacy. He reversed course amid pressure from his party for more transparency.

The investigation was launched after a lawsuit involving Kirsten Anderson, a former communications director for Senate Republicans. Anderson said she was fired in 2013, hours after reporting rampant harassment in the office that centered on lewd, sexually charged comments.

A jury awarded Anderson $2.2 million after a trial this year. The state settled for $1.75 million.

Dix said at a Nov. 14 press conference no new incidents of alleged misconduct were reported in the subsequent internal investigation.

“What I’ve been told is that there’s nothing new that has come in terms of any new complaints from that investigation,” Dix said.

But the three-page report notes an alleged incident during the 2017 legislative session involving a state senator making a sexually suggestive comment on the chamber floor. Additional information was redacted.

Caleb Hunter, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, declined to comment.


Senate Republicans announced on Nov. 21 that Mary Kramer, a former GOP state senator with lengthy human resources experience, would voluntarily advise the caucus to improve workplace culture.

Kramer’s work is focused on one area of the state Capitol, but it’s possible it could address others. She said Friday the statehouse has multiple layers of employee organization that includes elected officials, lobbyists and the news media, and it’s important to acknowledge that complexity. She said while she’s in the early stages of work, she intends to make recommendations before the start of the legislative session Jan. 8.

“I think this is a moment in history where there’s an opportunity to really, really make a difference and to make some changes,” she said.

The plan of action after Kramer’s recommendations is unclear. Dix said in statement that next steps are pending amid Kramer’s work.


Questions remain about the exit of a former staffer for Senate Republicans who was accused during the Anderson trial of discussing with co-workers sex in an inappropriate manner.

Jim Friedrich, an analyst, resigned in September but no additional information has been shared publicly.

Dix repeatedly declined during the Nov. 14 press conference to provide more information about Friedrich.

Senate GOP officials did not respond to a request by The Associated Press for documentation related to Friedrich’s resignation. They declined to answer questions about his exit.

A cellphone number for Friedrich is not accepting voicemails. No public number is listed for him.

The Iowa Legislature passed legislation this year requiring state agencies to release information when employees are fired, demoted or resign to avoid termination. The law doesn’t apply to the Legislature, which writes its own rules.


In early November, a top aide for Dix confirmed GOP leaders in the Senate and House planned to create a human resources director position to handle complaints of harassment and other misconduct at the Legislature. Dix then said on Nov. 14 he would drop those plans because staff expressed concern about the position’s accountability.

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said on the same day her staff still planned to hire an HR manager.

Dix reversed course again with the Nov. 21 Kramer news. A press release said his office would work with the House to hire the human resources manager.

Colin Tadlock, a spokesman for House Republicans, said the chambers have been in contact, but the HR director will be hired as a House employee who reports to the chief clerk. The position could become a joint employee in the future.


A week before Kramer’s appointment, Dix told reporters his office would hire outside counsel or an organization to review workplace culture. He said the hiring would involve a bidding process. Dix added it was possible the outside counsel could do an investigation similar to what was done through an internal office review, but he said it would be up to the hired group.

Since Kramer’s appointment was announced, the Senate GOP office has declined to comment on whether these plans have been dropped. Hunter declined on Friday to comment.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide