Government

Costs of state director's sexual harassment add up

Probe of Iowa Finance Authority enters gubernatorial debate

Dave Jamison
Dave Jamison

A five-month investigation of whether a state agency director sexually harassed his employees will cost the state $112,000.

The Weinhardt Law Firm of in Des Moines has billed the Iowa Finance Authority $112,165 after releasing a report last month confirming David Jamison did harass women on his staff, in one case grabbing his subordinate’s breasts and in another watching a pornographic video on his phone while he and a woman were alone in a car on a work trip.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who fired Jamison in March after a female employee complained about harassment, ordered the private investigation.

Jamison was paid more than $131,000 last year to lead the state agency that, among other things, facilitates affordable housing and community development programs.

Findings from the Weinhardt probe have become part of the gubernatorial campaign leading up to the Nov. 6 election. The firm said the state’s sexual harassment policies should be clearer about how a complaint against a director should be handled — which Reynolds’ Democratic challenger, Fred Hubbell, has tried to make an issue.

“We need to put in place a whistleblower process” where a third party would investigate sexual harassment complaints, Hubbell said at an Oct. 17 debate in Sioux City, according to the Sioux City Journal.

Reynolds has said the state’s policies worked in the Jamison case because she immediately fired him after hearing the woman’s allegations.

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The Oct. 17 invoice from the Weinhardt firm includes $110,385 for services rendered and $1,779 for expenses for the probe that involved seven Weinhardt employees. Three employees, including Weinhardt, David Fautsch and Elisabeth Archer, each were paid more than $30,000 for their time. Weinhardt’s hourly wage is $350.

One of the most expensive line items on the bill was $3,570, for the 10 hours Weinhardt spent preparing for and interviewing Jamison, as well as reviewing and revising witness interview memos and working on the report.

The Weinhardt bill is on top of the $95,000 to $110,000 the Finance Authority was expecting to pay for two financial investigations by CPA firm Eide Bailly. The first of those reports, released in August, showed no improper spending during the final three years of Jamison’s tenure.

The Weinhardt firm found Jamison most often committed sexual misconduct acts or made sexual comments within a small group, which witnesses said he called his “Circle of Trust,” with whom he frequently socialized and drank alcohol. Besides the two key witnesses, the circle included Tara Lawrence, director of Iowa Title Guaranty, and Wes Peterson, director of government relations.

“None of Mr. Jamison’s sexual harassment, however, was known in parts of state government outside of IFA,” the report stated. “Indeed, the most egregious acts by Mr. Jamison were only personally known by four people at IFA: Witness 1, Witness 2, Ms. Lawrence, and Mr. Peterson.”

The Associated Press has reported both Peterson and Lawrence are no longer with the agency.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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