Following news that former Department of Human Services director Jerry Foxhoven reportedly objected to a salary-sharing agreement with the governor’s office, Democrats in the Iowa House are continuing their call for an oversight hearing about his resignation. Republican officials have not raised concerns about these recent developments.
Foxhoven told The Associated Press he objected to paying the salary of former DHS employee Elizabeth Matney after she went to work as a health policy adviser for Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. He then told Des Moines TV station KCCI he believes this was the reason Reynolds asked him to resign in June.
But Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett said the salary-sharing agreement was not why Reynolds asked for Foxhoven’s resignation.
“This has been a longstanding practice of previous administrations dating back to Gov. Vilsack,” Garrett said. “If this was former director Foxhoven’s concern, he never raised it before offering his resignation or when he signed three [similar agreements] in 2017 and 2018.”
Garrett said a salary-sharing document was not delivered to Foxhoven before he was asked to leave. A document provided by the governor’s office states DHS will pay Matney’s salary from May 17, the date she started in the governor’s office, to June 30, which was the end of fiscal year 2019.
Foxhoven’s printed name is crossed out and replaced by Gerd Clabaugh, the interim DHS director. Clabaugh signed the agreement two days after Foxhoven’s departure.
Foxhoven pointed out to the AP that the governor’s office got its own appropriation.
Lawmakers approved an additional $200,000 for Reynolds’ office for fiscal year 2020, which began July 1. When lawmakers were debating this budget, Republicans said the increase was for health and tax policy analysts.
Garrett said Matney is currently being paid from the governor’s office budget, but he said salary-sharing agreements for this fiscal year haven’t been finalized.
Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines, said she has questions about how that money is being used.
“We are fighting for the rights of good Iowans who are hardworking and pay their taxes,” Gaines said. “They need to know where their taxpayer money is being spent.”
She said she now has even more interest in holding an oversight hearing.
“Until we can dig into this situation to know the truth, every statement is suspect,” Gaines said.
Top Republicans have denied the Democratic requests for a hearing.
Rep. John Landon, R-Ankeny, said in a statement lawmakers provided the governor with a reasonable budget increase.
“We try not to micromanage how the governor structures her own staff,” Landon said. “I am confident that she will use these additional resources in an efficient way that serves Iowans well.”