Reynolds confident about appealing discrimination verdict against state
DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds says she’s confident the state will be successful in its appeal of the $1.5 million discrimination verdict against the State of Iowa and former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
“I sat down with my legal team and, you know, after walking it through with them, I’m confident we have a really good case,” Reynolds told reporters Tuesday.
In July, a jury found Branstad had improperly tried to force state Workers Compensation Commissioner Christopher Godfrey to resign because he’s gay. Lawyers for the state appealed the jury’s decision to the Iowa Supreme Court.
“They have 182-page brief that outlines the issues that they saw with the case,” Reynolds says. “…We feel that we have a pretty strong case that we can make.”
The running tab for the case stands at nearly $8 million today and Reynolds said the cost of the appeal is “minimal” compared to that.
“I think it would be irresponsible for me at this point not to take it to the next step,” Reynolds told reporters.
The state has already paid nearly $2.5 million in legal fees for the private attorneys hired to defend Branstad. If the state loses the appeal, it will likely have to pay out more than $5 million to Godfrey and Godfrey’s attorney. The two Democrats who are members of the five-member State Executive Council are refusing to approve paying any more legal fees on the case. Reynolds and two other Republicans have the votes to continue the appeal.
“This is the right path to go,” Reynolds said.
Branstad tried to get Godfrey to quit in early 2011 and then cut his pay by a third when Godfrey refused to leave his post. Godfrey filed his discrimination lawsuit in 2012. For the past five years, Godfrey has been the chief judge of the federal board that decides employee compensation appeals.