Investigation Finds Former Housing Agency Director Harassed Employees
An investigation of former Iowa Finance Authority director Dave Jamison released Thursday has found he committed “egregious” acts of sexual harassment against two employees, and two other employees knew about it.
More than a month after Gov. Kim Reynolds fired Jamison over sexual harassment allegations in late March, she hired The Weinhardt Law Firm to investigate Jamison’s conduct.
The resulting report details several instances of harassment mostly directed at two female IFA employees, identified as Witness 1 and Witness 2. The report says Witness 1 wrote the letter containing sexual harassment allegations that led to Reynolds firing Jamison. The report concludes Jamison “engaged in sexually harassing conduct” as described in that letter, and committed even more egregious acts with Witness 2.
In one such incident, according to the report, three people saw Jamison grab Witness 2’s breasts with both hands while a group from IFA was traveling for work. Witness 2 also said Jamison showed her a pornographic video on his cell phone and asked inappropriate questions while driving to a work event.
Jamison has denied all of these allegations, even though the report notes there is corroborating evidence for many of them. The report says “his version of events is not credible.”
The report says interviews with other IFA employees show “inappropriate sexual comments were the norm for Mr. Jamison.”
After attending Reynolds’ Condition of the State Address in which she mentioned sexual harassment, one IFA employee recalled Jamison saying, “[the governor] didn’t say when the zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment would start.”
According to the report, only two other people at the agency knew of Jamison’s more aggressive behavior toward Witness 1 and Witness 2. It says senior employees Wes Peterson and Tara Lawrence saw Jamison grab Witness 2’s breasts, but they did not report the incident.
After Jamison was fired, Peterson called Witness 2 and “yelled at her while trying to get her to tell him that she was one of the accusers.”
The investigation found no evidence that state government officials outside the agency knew about the harassment.
“While it is not a secret that Mr. Jamison and I were friends, I had no idea that he behaved this way,” said Reynolds in an emailed statement. “I never witnessed or experienced anything like what is described in the report. Had I known, I would have fired him a long time ago.”
The report says Jamison “regularly touted his relationship with Gov. Reynolds,” which could have discouraged employees from filing complaints about his behavior.
“I am frustrated that Mr. Jamison created the impression that he wouldn’t face consequences because of my friendship with him,” Reynolds said. “That could not be further from the truth.”
The report says the policy for reporting harassment by a state agency director is not clear in the employee handbook, and recommends changing that. The report states it’s “understandable” that Witness 1 and Witness 2 went straight to the governor with their complaint instead of going through the Department of Administrative Services.
“We will immediately take up this issue and make that change,” Reynolds said.
Finally, the report also describes many instances of heavy drinking by Jamison and other IFA employees, and says Jamison would leave work hours early with some employees to go to bars.
There are still at least two ongoing investigations of IFA financial matters.