Former Iowa Governor Branstad Focus Of Discrimination Lawsuit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A monthlong trial in state court has begun that focuses on whether former Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad discriminated against a gay Democratic official by pressuring him to quit or was exercising the governor’s right to hire people aligned with his political philosophy.

Branstad was sued in 2012 by Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey, who alleged discrimination by Branstad and staff members who pressured Godfrey to resign in 2011.

When Branstad came into office in 2011, Godfrey had four more years before his term ended so Branstad couldn’t fire him. However, the governor could set the commissioner’s salary, so he cut Godfrey’s pay by $39,000.

A Polk County jury will decide whether Branstad’s actions were proper or discrimination based on sexual orientation, political party affiliation or both.