Reynolds Delays Naming Permanent Directors Of Corrections, Natural Resources

Mar 29, 2019

Gov. Kim Reynolds is delaying nominating permanent directors for the Department of Corrections and the Department of Natural Resources. Interim leaders will remain in place without being vetted by the Senate.

The governor formally notified the Senate earlier this month she’s not ready to name permanent directors for the Department of Corrections and the Department of Natural Resources. Both positions require Senate confirmation.

Interim Director Dan Craig has led DOC for about three months. Reynolds named Craig to the post after Director Jerry Bartruff retired in December 2018.

DNR Acting Director Bruce Trautman has been in place for nearly eleven months. Reynolds tapped him for the interim position after Director Chuck Gipp retired in May 2018.

This month Reynolds declined to formally nominate either of the men to permanently head the departments. Instead, she deferred the appointments, saying in letters to the Secretary of the Senate that her office "has initiated, but not yet completed, the selection process" for the positions. 

"The governor has four years to really put her vision in place and she wants to make sure she finds the right people for the right position [...] And so I think she's taking a lot of time to make sure she does that properly. It's not something you want to rush into." - Pat Garrett, spokesman for Gov. Kim Reynolds

Spokespeople for the agencies say having interim directors is not interfering with department operations.

"We have an acting-director currently serving and our staff continues to successfully fulfill our day to day operations and the overall mission of the DNR," said department spokesman Alex Murphy in a written statement. "We are patient and don't want to rush the selection process of a new director to ensure that the most qualified candidate is chosen and is the best fit for the DNR and the State of Iowa."

DOC spokesman Cord Overton also said the job search process may take some time. 

"The extensive experience and strong leadership that Interim Director Dan Craig brings to the position are more than sufficient to keep the department moving forward in its mission of creating opportunities for safer communities. Given the important role this department plays in the public safety of our state, it makes sense that the search for a permanent director should not be rushed," Overton said in a written statement.   

Due to techincal deadlines outlined in Iowa Code, the governor's decision to delay the appointments means the Senate won't be able to confirm nominees until next session, according to Secretary of the Senate Charlie Smithson.

"Governor can make an interim appointment to an office," Smithson wrote in an email response. "So a formal appointment does not have to wait, but the Senate would not vote to confirm until next session."

In the meantime, interim leaders will continue to manage the agencies without a formal vetting by state lawmakers.

Reynolds' spokesman Pat Garrett says the governor is taking her time on making these decisions.

“The governor has four years to really put her vision in place and she wants to make sure she finds the right people for the right position," Garrett said. "And so I think she’s taking a lot of time to make sure she does that properly. It’s not something you want to rush into."