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Senate panel calls unemployment judges to testify

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Senate Government Oversight Committee is calling to testify under oath a number of judges that decide Iowa unemployment cases as part of its investigation into alleged abuse of power at Iowa Workforce Development.

Former Chief Administrative Law Judge Joe Walsh is the first witness to appear Tuesday. He’s filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the state claiming IWD Director Teresa Wahlert laid him off after he opposed her efforts to change his job to a political appointment and to favor employers over workers in unemployment decisions.

The committee has for months been investigating allegations of a hostile work environment at state agencies, questionable hiring practices and misallocation of funds in Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration.

Branstad, a Republican, says the committee run by Senate Democrats is motivated by politics.