Judge orders trial over Iowa’s treatment of work comp chief
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge says jurors will decide whether former Governor Terry Branstad singled out a former state official for a pay cut because of his political party or sexual orientation.
Judge Brad McCall on Thursday rejected the state’s request to dismiss a long-running lawsuit filed by former Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey. McCall’s ruling sets up a trial in Polk County, which is scheduled for June 3.
Branstad slashed Godfrey’s pay by 35 percent after the commissioner refused the governor’s request to resign in 2011. Godfrey had been confirmed to a six-year term by the Iowa Senate.
Branstad says he wanted to appoint a more “pro-business” commissioner than Godfrey, who had been appointed and reappointed by prior Democratic governors. Godfrey argues that the pay cut and other retaliation was improperly motivated by his status as an openly gay man and Democrat.
McCall says the “jury’s determination as to the true motives involved will determine the outcome in this case.”