Governor backs agencies’ actions

In state trooper harassment case

WINTERSET, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday defended the state’s handling of a 10-month­ workplace harassment investigation that ended with the firing of a state trooper and examined whether a top security official ignored a female worker’s concerns.

Reynolds told reporters that she had no problem with how the Department of Public Safety and Department of Administrative Services conducted the investigation into trooper Wade Karp, who was fired July 3 for a pattern of “intimidating, threatening and unwelcome” interactions with colleagues.

She said she believes the agencies followed an appropriate process and released all the information that they could under the law.

The state hasn’t explained why the investigation took 10 months, during which Karp was paid roughly $50,000 in salary while on administrative leave. The agencies have also refused to reveal what the investigation found related to Iowa State Patrol Capt. Mark Logsdon, who oversees the governor’s security detail as well as Capitol security. They claim the findings are confidential personnel information that is exempt from the open records law.

A female state employee has accused Logsdon of failing to act last August after she informed him that she was afraid of Karp and wanted protection. She reported receiving unsettling Facebook messages from him seeking a romantic relationship and said she had concerns since his rifle went off in the office in December 2016.

The employee, legislative security coordinator Shawna Ferguson, has alleged in emails obtained by The Associated Press that Logsdon offered her no assistance, sought to justify Karp’s behavior and told her she was a “strong person” who could confront Karp herself.

Ferguson eventually reported Karp’s Facebook messages to the department’s internal affairs unit on Sept. 5, and Karp was immediately placed on leave pending an investigation.

Reynolds did not answer a question about whether she retained confidence in Logsdon, who has long worked closely with governors and other top state politicians. She said that she could not reveal what the investigation found because of the “law and personnel information.”

“But I have made it very clear that we want employees coming to work in a safe environment,” she told reporters in Winterset.

Unlike the two agencies, Reynolds’ office has yet to fulfill a June 29 open records request seeking documents related to the Karp case.

Reynolds has mandated sexual harassment training for state employees, which warns that managers will be disciplined or fired if they fail to act on complaints or knowledge of violations. She has also expressed a “zero tolerance” standard toward workplace sexual harassment and said confidentiality should be granted to victims so people feel free to step forward.

The handling of the Karp investigation stands in contrast with the case of Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison, who was fired by Reynolds the day after she learned of harassment allegations against him. Investigations are now underway into the allegations against Jamison and what other employees responded to them. The state has also redacted the names of the women who complained about Jamison — a step it didn’t take for Ferguson.