A controversial settlement in a sexual harassment complaint against Republicans in the Iowa Senate was officially approved today, putting an end to a lawsuit alleging a sexually-charged atmosphere in the GOP caucus.
The State Appeals Board agreed that Iowa taxpayers will cover the $1.75 million settlement, with the money going to former GOP staffer Kirsten Anderson and her attorneys.
A district court had awarded Anderson $2.2 million.
Solicitor General Jeff Thompson said continuing to fight that verdict could be costly.
“Even in the best of circumstances the reduction in the verdict could be offset by additional attorney fees in the appeal,” Thompson told the board. “We think it’s in the best interest of the state to pay the $1.75 million to resolve this case and close this matter.”
Appeals Board member Democratic State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald was part of the 3-0 vote to approve the deal. But he continued to question having taxpayers cover the cost.
“I give the attorney general's office a lot of credit for negotiating this settlement and saving the state a lot of money, but to cover this kind of action is appalling,” Fitzgerald said. "Is there a possibility of other cases coming forward?"
“I believe Senator Dix has taken this very seriously and has worked to make some changes moving forward,” Thompson replied.
Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman, also on the board, defended covering the settlement with taxpayer funds.
“There is no other source of funds for this,” Mosiman said.
Fitzgerald again called for Sen. Dix to step down from his leadership role. Earlier in the day, Gov. Reynolds called that “ridiculous.”
"Let’s stop taking incidents like this and making it a political issue,” Reynolds said.
Thompson admitted the case cost the attorney general’s office substantial time and energy to defend.
“We did our best,” Thompson said. “We lost a verdict which happens.”