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Senate Republicans Retain Leadership and Staff after Sexual Harassment Verdict

Joyce Russell/IPR
Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock)

Republicans in the Iowa Senate met Friday behind closed doors to discuss a $2.2 million judgment against the Senate in a sexual harassment trial.  

A Polk County jury sided with former staffer Kirsten Anderson who said she was fired after complaining of overt sexual comments by fellow Republicans.    

So far, no one has been disciplined in the case.

There were issues learned in the trial that I was not aware of. -Sen. Bill Dix

Emerging from the more than two hour meeting, Republican Leader Bill Dix said the Senate will conduct its own investigation to determine if discipline is necessary.

"There were issues learned in the trial that I was not aware of so as a result, there is an investigation taking place to look into those allegations," Dix said.   "If we learn that they are truthful, we will move swiftly to address them in the appropriate manner."

One Republican senator, Rick Bertrand of Sioux City, called for Dix to step down. But he said no vote was taken on Dix’s continued leadership.

"It’s business as usual in the Iowa Senate," Bertrand said.

Secretary of the Senate Charles Smithson will conduct the internal investigation.

But attorneys for Anderson want greater assurance that the harassment described in the trial does not recur.    

It's business as usual in the Iowa Senate. -Sen. Rick Bertrand

On Thursday, they filed a motion with the court asking for post-judgment relief in the case.  

The motion calls for an outside investigation of the complaints and an outside consultant to direct improvements in sexual harassment policy in the Senate.

If a judge agrees, Senate Republicans would be subject to outside supervision for up to five years.  

"The ongoing illegal conduct that was exposed through Plaintiff’s lawsuit has not, to date, been remedied," the motion reads.   "It is apparent that such conduct is beyond the capacity and capability of current Senate Republican Caucus members to supervise and correct."