Dems: Ensuring state government works for tax payers

February 29, 2016

In the summer and fall of 2014, the Senate Government Oversight Committee investigated allegations into the Branstad Administration’s use of hush money, slush funds, black lists and an unemployment division in turmoil at Iowa Workforce Development (IWD). The Oversight Committee heard concerns of current and former IWD employees about political influence in the judicial process for unemployment appeals and overpayment of unemployment benefits during a system glitch in March 2014.


Many in the Branstad Administration and legislative Republicans dismissed the Oversight Committee meetings as “political theater.” However, the U.S. Department of Labor backed up charges of undue political influence in the appeal process for unemployment benefits. In addition, a report by State Auditor Mary Mosiman, a Republican, showed that the Oversight Committee was doing its job to investigate wrong doing by the Executive Branch. In fact, the Auditor’s Office learned about the overpayments only after news reports of IWD testimony before the Oversight Committee, even though Iowa law required the department to provide the information to State Auditor.


Former IWD Director Teresa Wahlert and other former employees of the department testified that overpayment of unemployment benefits totaled $27,000 to 85 claimants. IWD had no formal tracking process or supporting documentation for these numbers. IWD later upped the number of claimants to 448 and the amount of overpayment to more than $96,000.


The State Auditor subsequently verified a significantly higher number of claimants and overpayment. In the end, it was confirmed that 858 claimants were overpaid $723,245.


Overpayment at IWD was just one small aspect of the Oversight Committee hearings. Senate Democrats were listening to concerned Iowa citizens when we held those meetings and we are still listening today.


For the State Auditor’s full report on IWD, go to


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