Gov. Reynolds says Iowans don't need to know why she asked DHS director to resign

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds told KCRG-TV9 there is "no reason" to explain why she asked the head of Iowa's Department of Human Services to resign last month.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, left, and Jerry Foxhoven, former Department of Human Services Director, right (Courtesy: State of Iowa / governor.iowa.gov / dhs.iowa.gov)

Jerry Foxhoven stepped down last month at the request of Reynolds. The Governor has said she is looking to overhaul the agency and is currently searching for a new leader for the department that oversees the state's privatized Medicaid system.

Reynolds told KCRG-TV9 the same thing she has said publicly, that there were several factors that led her to ask Foxhoven to resign but she refuses to give specifics.

"I'm just not going to get into that," Reynolds told KCRG-TV9. "I just don't think that's healthy and there is just no reason to do that."

When asked if the public has a right to know what she is considering when making those decisions, Reynolds said: "I don't think so".

Instead, the Governor suggested voters should judge her on the quality of people on her administrative team and her plans to overhaul DHS to focus on working more collaboratively with other agencies, adding "I feel good about the team we are putting together".

Democrats in the Iowa House and Senate say that violates Iowa's Open Records Law. Reynolds was a part of then Gov. Terry Branstad's administration when he signed a law requiring government agencies give "reasons and rationale" for any public employee that is fired or asked to resign in lieu of termination.

When pressed, Reynolds said her refusal to explain Foxhoven's resignation does not violate Iowa's Open Record Law. Reynolds said she asked Foxhoven to resign and he did, arguing that did not fit the law's definition of "resignation in lieu of termination".

But when asked whether she would have fired Foxhoven if he had refused to resign, Reynolds said "we met the specifications of the Code and feel very confident that we did that appropriately."