Former Iowa Supreme Court Justice To Review DCI Agent's Firing

By Erin Jordan, Reporter

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By Richard Pratt

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has appointed a former Iowa Supreme Court justice to do an independent review of the firing of a veteran state investigator earlier this month.

Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Lavarato, who served on the court from 1986 to 2006, will review the July 17 firing of Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Larry Hedlund, who claims his termination was due in part to his complaint that Branstad’s vehicle wasn’t stopped for speeding in April.

“Iowans may continue to have questions and doubts about the allegations made until they know the whole story. I want Iowans to know the truth,” Branstad said in a prepared statement. “Former Chief Justice Louis A. Lavarato is a respected and impartial statesman, and will offer a fresh, independent review of this matter. He will share his findings with Iowans, and will bring to light the full truth.”

Branstad did not put a time frame on the review, but said he will allow Iowans to review the findings as early as possible.

Hedlund, a 25-year investigator, was fired for insubordination, using a disrespectful tone to his supervisor and driving a state car on his day off, according to a three-page termination letter signed by Chari Paulson, director of the Iowa DCI.

Hedlund, 55, was put on paid leave May 1, two days after writing an email to his supervisors complaining state troopers did not pull over a speeding SUV carrying Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on April 26 on U.S. Highway 20. Hedlund spotted the SUV driving about 90 mph and reported the car to dispatch.

A trooper who pursued the SUV did not initially know it carried the governor because the car's plates were not listed in computerized files. He aborted the pursuit when he realized the car was driven by a fellow trooper.

Branstad has denounced Hedlund’s assertion he was fired for complaining about the incident. He called on Hedlund and his attorney, Tom Duff, to release to the public a 500-page report explaining what led up to the termination.

The state had not yet provided the report to Hedlund or Duff earlier this week. Duff has said they would review the report before deciding whether to make it public.

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