Attorney for Fired Agent Calls State Report Slanderous & Defamatory
By Erin Jordan, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The former Iowa Supreme Court justice reviewing the firing of a state investigator won't say whether he will use a 500-page report the fired agent's attorney called slanderous and defamatory.
Louis Lavorato, who served on the court from 1986 to 2006, was asked last week by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to do an independent investigation of 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.
Hedlund's attorney, Tom Duff, released a statement Friday saying the 500-page Confidential Case File discussing the lead-up to Hedlund's firing is a one-sided report that "will only serve to further harm Hedlund's character and reputation."
The state has released the report to Lavorato, which Duff said may be a violation of Iowa's public records laws protecting personnel matters.
"Justice Lavorato is a very fair person, but he will not have access to all the facts after reading this manufactured one-sided report," Duff wrote.
Branstad's spokesman Tim Albrecht said Monday that Lavorato "has full access to all files, after signing a nondisclosure agreement prepared by the Attorney General's office that preserves confidentiality."
When contacted by The Gazette Monday, Lavorato wouldn't say whether he will use the report in his investigation. He declined to comment on who he will interview or how long the investigation will take.
Duff said he plans to file, possibly later this week, a wrongful termination lawsuit on behalf of Hedlund.
"I think I'm going to file the lawsuit sooner than I had intended because of these developments," he said.
Hedlund, who worked for Public Safety for 25 years, paid the $181.50 speeding ticket of a state trooper who was driving with Branstad aboard April 26, Duff said.
Following a DPS review that ended last week, Trooper Steve Lawrence was cited for driving 84 mph in a 65-mph zone on Highway 20 in Hamilton County.
Hedlund originally spotted the state-owned SUV and called in to dispatch.
Another trooper who pursued the vehicle 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.
Hedlund was put on paid leave two days after he complained about the incident. State officials have said the termination was not connected to the complaints.