Graphic letter to Iowa governor detailed harassment by ally

April 26, 2018 - 4:40 pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An agency director fired by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds harassed female subordinates for years by making crude sexual comments and pressuring one to go into his hotel room during work travel, according to a graphic complaint released Thursday.

After keeping the document secret for a month, the governor released a March 21 letter that detailed allegations against Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison and pleaded for her help stopping him.

Reynolds fired Jamison on March 24 for what she called "credible" sexual harassment allegations, the day after her staff learned of them. But she had refused to provide further information about the conduct of Jamison, long one of her closest political allies.

"This letter outlines disgusting and abhorrent behavior from David Jamison," Reynolds said Thursday after releasing the letter in response to open records requests.

The woman wrote that Jamison has "been sexually harassing me and others in the office for years" through remarks about his sexual history, questions about their sex lives, comments about their bodies, and constant sexual innuendo.

The woman said Jamison repeatedly tried to get her to go into his hotel room during two trips, and once rubbed her neck during a seven-hour car ride while asking her questions about her sexual past. He often asked female coworkers to go drinking with him, and his behavior got worse when he was intoxicated, she wrote.

"I am terrified about coming forward, but his behavior is escalating and has to stop," she wrote. "It is not safe for women to be around him."

The woman said she was reporting the behavior directly to the governor because she worried that Jamison would be cleared or she would be fired if she went through normal channels.

"I know you're friends with Dave and I hate to put this on your shoulders, but I just can't take it anymore," she wrote. "Please help me or tell me who to go to."

Jamison, 60, hasn't returned messages seeking comment.

The woman's attorney, Paige Fiedler, said her client took a "huge risk" in coming forward and was grateful that Reynolds believed her allegations and terminated Jamison. But she questioned why Reynolds didn't order the state to investigate the extent of Jamison's behavior and wondered who was aware of it and why it wasn't reported earlier.

"None of that happened, which is unusual," she said. "There are lessons to be learned regardless of getting rid of the perpetrator."

Fiedler said her client hasn't decided whether to pursue legal action.

The governor released the complaint amid mounting pressure to do so. Last week, her office told The Associated Press that no such records existed. Reynolds then acknowledged Monday that there was a complaint but said it was being withheld in order to protect the identity of Jamison's victims. AP appealed that denial, prompting Thursday's release of the three-page letter with minor redactions.

Fiedler said at least one other employee made verbal allegations against Jamison to the governor's office.

Reynolds and Jamison had a 20-year working relationship dating back to when they were leaders of the Iowa State County Treasurers Association. The two were on the statewide GOP ticket in 2010, when Reynolds was elected lieutenant governor and Jamison lost the state treasurer race. Then-Gov. Terry Branstad named Jamison to lead IFA in 2011.

Reynolds has said the case demonstrates a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment. She ordered Jamison's firing before any investigation into the allegations or speaking with him.

Critics had accused the governor of improperly hiding details of how Jamison allegedly abused his $130,000-annual position running an agency that promotes home ownership and finances municipal infrastructure projects. In an editorial Wednesday, the Quad-City Times newspaper said Reynolds was "running roughshod over every basic tenet of open government" for political reasons.

The woman said in the complaint that weeks after she started work, the married Jamison started telling her about "how his wife never has sex with him." He allegedly told the woman that he frequented massage parlors for the "happy endings" and that employees told him how large his penis was.

Jamison often tried to look down her shirt, so she started limiting what she wore to work to discourage the behavior, she wrote. During one trip, Jamison allegedly kept asking if her breasts were real and gestured across the bar "to get me to pull my shirt open and show him." He would ask her questions about sexual positions and her partners and make sexual gestures with his fingers, she wrote.

"I bet you're so dirty," he allegedly told the woman.

He also mocked a sexual harassment training video that employees watched and made light of the #MeToo movement, once joking that he had hired "the law firm of Lauer, Weinstein, and Franken" to represent him, referring to celebrities accused of sexual misconduct, the complaint alleged. When an agency administrator reprimanded him for inappropriate comments, Jamison appeared to threaten retaliation by saying, "You must be allergic to a paycheck," the complaint said.

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