DES MOINES – A state vehicle in which Gov. Terry Branstad was riding was clocked traveling at an excessive speed in April, but records released Tuesday indicate the incident ended when pursuing law officers determined it was the governor’s SUV being operated by a state trooper.
The high-speed situation came to light when Larry Hedlund, a special agent in charge with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, contacted a state police dispatcher to report a black Chevrolet Tahoe driving at a high rate of speed on a stretch of U.S. 20 between Cedar Falls and Fort Dodge.
Hedlund initially told the dispatcher the vehicle with an Iowa license plate was driving a “hard 90” and later he said “he’s got an open field in front of him, so he’s running pretty hard. I’m doing right at a little over 90 and I’m not catching up on him so he’s right in that ball park somewhere.”
Recordings obtained by The Gazette contained conversations between Hedlund and a state radio dispatcher as Hedlund traveled westbound on U.S. 20 trailing a vehicle which had an Iowa license plate that did not show up in the state Department of Public Safety data bank.
“Maybe it’s the feds and they’re making a movie,” the dispatcher joked at one point during the conversation, while she attempted to summon state troopers in the area to set up a laser check of the vehicle’s speed in anticipation of making a stop for speeding.
“This ought to be easy pickins,” the dispatcher said at one point, noting the troopers who monitored the vehicle’s speed clocked it traveling at 84 mph. The speed limit on divided U.S. 20 is 65 mph, while it is 70 mph on Interstate 35.
The speeding vehicle was intercepted after it turned onto Interstate 35, but later Hedlund is heard to say: “As if my career doesn’t have enough problems the way it is” noting that the SUV was carrying “the governor.”
Hedlund since has been put on administrative leave, but Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said Tuesday that leave “is not related to his complaint about the speeding incident.”
Albrecht confirmed that Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were in the vehicle but were unaware the event had occurred. He said the governor was informed of the incident Tuesday when his office learned DPS officials were releasing recordings and information about the incident.
“We have public safety professionals who drive the governor and lieutenant governor throughout Iowa’s 99 counties,” Albrecht said in a statement. “We have great faith and trust in Iowa’s law enforcement officials to ensure the safety of the governor and all Iowans.”
Listen to DCI Special Agent In Charge Hedlund talk to a dispatcher about the speeding SUV here: