Lawyer Fees in Former Governor Lawsuit Surpass $2.4 Million
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state panel has approved the latest bill for former Gov. Terry Branstad's continued fight against a jury verdict that found he discriminated against a former state executive.
The Iowa Executive Council approved payment Monday of a bill for over $488,000 to a Des Moines law firm. That raises the taxpayer costs of defending Branstad to $2.4 million.
Jurors unanimously found in July that Branstad, now U.S. ambassador to China, and his former legal counsel Brenna Findley discriminated against former Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey in 2011 because he's gay.
State taxpayers also may end up paying Godfrey's legal costs of $3.5 million if they're approved by a judge as well as the $1.5 million in damages the jury awarded Godfrey.
Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, the Republicans on the council, supported paying the bills. Democratic Auditor Rob Sand also voted to pay the bill but says he won't support paying appeal costs. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, a Democrat, opposed paying the latest bill.