A former Division of Criminal Investigation agent who was terminated after reporting a vehicle carrying Gov. Terry Branstad was doing a “hard 90” has offered to settle claims against the state if he can return to his job.
“He is interested in returning and it’s our understanding the position is still available,” said Tom Duff, a Des Moines attorney representing former DCI special agent Larry Hedlund.
Hedlund was a central figure in a high-profile incident last April where a state trooper driving an SUV carrying Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds was clocked driving 84 mph in a 65-mph zone.
The incident became public because Hedlund, who initially spotted the speeding SUV, complained it wasn’t ticketed. He was later fired, although state officials said it was not linked to his complaint.
Although officially retired now, Hedlund is interested in returning to work, Duff said. Since the incident, the director of the Department of Public Safety has left state employment and two others involved in the handling of the Hedlund case have moved to other jobs.
In a lawsuit, Hedlund, a 25-year employee, is seeking unspecified damages for lost wages, benefits, job security, mental anguish, emotional distress and damage to his reputation. Duff previously said the ultimate amount Hedlund is seeking would be “seven figures.”
Duff said he has emailed the Attorney General’s Office with a proposal that among other things would involve Hedlund’s reinstatement.
“We’re interested. We don’t know if they are,” Duff said. “We reached out, but so far it’s been deafening silence.”
The Attorney General’s Office, the DPS and the governor’s office would not confirm any discussion involving Hedlund because the case is under litigation and involves a personnel matter.
If the state is not interested or rejects Hedlund’s offer, Duff said, he will continue to prepare for trial. No trial date has been set. In October, a district judge refused the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Hedlund alleging the Branstad administration improperly shared a confidential personnel file with an independent investigator reviewing agent’s firing and claims of retaliation.
Hedlund was put on paid leave May 1, two days after he made the complaint. He was fired July 17 for insubordination, using a disrespectful tone and driving a state car on a day off, according to a termination letter released by the department.
The department also claims it has a 500-page dossier on Hedlund that goes into greater detail about his conduct. At a news conference last summer, Branstad challenged Hedlund to release the report, which is confidential under state employment laws.