Former Iowa Director Knew About Secret Settlements, Former Attorney Testifies

By Erin Jordan, Reporter

DES MOINES, Iowa — The former attorney for the Iowa Department of Administrative Services told the Senate Oversight Committee Wednesday former DAS Director Mike Carroll was “mistaken or forgot” when he testified in April secret settlements with terminated employees didn’t involve hush money.

During nearly three hours of testimony, Ryan Lamb, who left state employment in February to work for the Weitz Company, said it was his idea to offer former state employees money to settle disputes over termination.

“As long as the terms were legal and in the best interest of my client, I didn’t think it was a big deal,” he said.

State officials have acknowledged 24 confidential settlements — 10 with lump-sum payments — signed with dismissed state workers since January 2011.

Carroll, Lamb’s former boss, was aware of the arrangements, Lamb testified.

“With respect to money as consideration for confidentiality, the issue was raised with Director Carroll,” Lamb said.

Lamb said he didn’t know why Carroll told the Oversight Committee April 3 that no hush money had been paid. “He was mistaken or forgot, perhaps, that one of the settlement agreements appears to have payment in exchange for confidentiality,” Lamb said.

Branstad fired Carroll April 8 after emails surfaced showing Lamb’s communication with an attorney representing Carol Frank, a senior construction engineer who was laid off. Frank was offered an additional $6,500 to sign nondisclosure clauses.

At least two other members of Branstad’s cabinet knew about the settlements, Lamb said. He consulted with Jeff Boeyink, Branstad’s former chief of staff, about the terms of one settlement and Brenna Findley, Branstad’s legal counsel, was aware of several deals.

The oversight panel called seven people to testify Wednesday in Des Moines, but was still talking with Lamb at 2:15 p.m.

Senate Resolution 121 grants the committee authority through Dec. 31 to call witnesses, administer oaths, issue subpoenas, and cite and impose punishment for contempt — ranging from a $500 fine for an initial citation, $1,000 for a second or subsequent citation and the power to impose imprisonment for a period of up to six months.

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