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Ex-Comp Commissioner's Lawsuit Has Cost Taxpayers Nearly $1 Million to Defend

Thursday, July 27, 2017 | 411 | 0 | 0 min read

Taxpayers are on the hook for $916,000 in legal bills that two governors have incurred fighting a lawsuit by former Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey.

Chris Godfrey

Chris Godfrey

Godfrey alleges former Gov. Terry Branstad cut his salary by $39,000 by falsely arguing poor work performance when the real reasons were partisan politics or because Godfrey is gay.

“I think it’s pretty clear to me that I was not the type of person he wanted. He did not want a successful person like myself, who was open and honest about my sexual orientation,” Godfrey told KCCI in Des Moines.

Godfrey’s salary was cut from $112,000 to $73,000 after he refused Branstad’s demand that he resign.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled June 30 that a district court erred in granting summary judgment to Branstad and his administration on two counts contained in Godfrey’s lawsuit.

Terry Branstad

Terry Branstad

The ruling dealt a heavy blow to the state’s sovereign immunity protections and allows Godfrey to argue that the governor deprived him of his salary because of partisan politics or because of his sexual orientation, and that Branstad made false allegations of poor work performance.

“I have absolutely no idea why the state of Iowa and its executive officers proceed with a position which is absolutely ludicrous, which is absolutely ridiculous,” Godfrey’s Des Moines attorney, Roxanne Conlin, told the television station.

The Republican Branstad, who served as Iowa’s chief executive from 1983 to 1999 and then again from 2010 to 2017, recently resigned to become President Donald Trump’s U.S. ambassador to China.

Then-Lt. Gov. Kimberly Reynolds, now Iowa’s current governor, also is named in Godfrey’s lawsuit.

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