Iowa will pay $4.15 million to two women who accused former Iowa Finance Authority director Dave Jamison of sexual harassment in settlement payments approved Monday by state officials.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds fired Jamison in March 2018 after she received complaints about him. Jamison was a longtime friend of the governor’s.
A third-party investigation completed in September confirmed many of the allegations of sexual comments and one incident in which Jamison grabbed an employee’s breasts.
Beth Mahaffey, former business development director at IFA, alleged Jamison sexually harassed her, and she will get $2.35 million. Ashley Jared, the current communications director, will get $1.8 million for “personal physical injury” and “emotional distress damages from sexual assault and sex discrimination, including sexual harassment.”
They had both filed complaints with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
Iowa Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson said settling the employment claims before Mahaffey and Jared could file lawsuits is best for the state.
“That’s the whole point of this is to buy peace for the victims, to buy peace for the state, to do a fair thing based on a rapport instead of engaging in what-ifs,” Thompson said.
The early settlements mean the state can avoid what could have been a long process that played out in public court proceedings. State officials are not admitting wrongdoing by settling.
The $4.15 million will come from the state’s general fund, but Iowa could sue Jamison for the money in the future.
Auditor Rob Sand said the state should not move forward with the settlements unless state officials promise to do that.
“I think if Dave Jamison isn’t paying for what he did, then taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for it either,” Sand said.
After Jamison was fired, he unsuccessfully appealed to the state to continue receiving unemployment benefits.
Settlement documents indicate Reynolds will ask IFA to reimburse the state using non-public funds.
The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Sand and Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald also said they were concerned that the term “sexual assault” appears in Jared’s settlement documents. They asked about potential criminal charges.
Thompson said criminal charges are typically in the hands of county attorneys, not the attorney general’s office.
Department of Management Director Dave Roederer and Fitzgerald were the two State Appeal Board members who voted Monday to approve the payments to Mahaffey and Jared. Sand was the lone “no” vote.