A former University of Iowa employee suing the Board of Regents for the way it hired UI President Bruce Harreld is asking a judge to deny the board’s request to drop the case and to reject portions of former regents President Bruce Rastetter’s testimony.
Gerhild Krapf’s attorney, Gary Dickey, reports Rastetter in a deposition asserted he organized meetings between Harreld and four of the nine regents “to make sure they were ‘in compliance’ with open meetings law,” court records filed Friday show.
Based on news reports of Harreld’s hire in September 2015, Dickey argued Rastetter’s assertion is “intellectually dishonest at best and intentionally misleading at worst.” A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 6 in Des Moines.
“Had Rastetter truly intended to comply with chapter 21, he would have erred on the side of transparency,” according to Dickey’s resistance to the board’s request a judge dismiss the case. “He would have instructed Harreld to have made his meeting request according to the board’s own policy, provided public notice, met in the open, and recorded the meetings with minutes. He did none of these things. At every opportunity to provide transparency, he instead chose secrecy.”
Krapf, a UI alumnus who worked for a decade as UI Hospitals and Clinics counsel and later as special assistant to the dean of the College of Law, filed the lawsuit last year in Polk County. She is accusing the board of violating state open meetings laws by scheduling private meetings between then-candidate Harreld and four regents at Rastetter’s place of business in Alden.
In the new court documents, Dickey reports Rastetter, Harreld and then-Regent Mary Andringa communicated with each other using private emails rather than their board accounts. And the meetings occurred at Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group, which “had not been used previously as the location of a board meeting, nor has it been used since.”
In depositions for the lawsuit, according to court documents, Rastetter said he limited the number of board members involved in the meetings with Harreld — and split them into two groups of two — specifically because of the open meetings law.
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Katie Mulholland, a past board member who was involved in the meetings, “knew that the meetings were coordinated in such a way as to avoid the requirement that they be public,” according to her deposition, documents show.
Rastetter’s deposition testimony also is contradictory, according to Dickey. While he reported gathering his fellow regents for the meetings with Harreld “in their capacities as regents for the purpose of recruiting Harreld,” Rastetter said he did not view it as “an official board matter.”
Rastetter in his deposition also didn’t disclose an early meeting with Harreld in June — which Harreld has told reporters he had with Rastetter, Interim UI President Jean Robillard and Vice President for External Relations Peter Matthes.
For those reasons, among others, Dickey argued Rastetter’s stated intention of complying with the states open meetings laws “should be given no weight.”