IOWA CITY, Iowa – An agency director who was a top ally of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds committed a range of sexual misconduct, harassment and inappropriate behaviour that went on for years, an independent investigation concluded Thursday.
Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison grabbed one subordinate’s breasts in front of several colleagues, and watched a pornographic video in front of the woman during a different trip, the report found. Jamison repeatedly made crude sexual comments to that woman and a second female employee whom he asked to come to his hotel room during travel, it said.
Jamison, 60, also routinely made inappropriate jokes and obscene gestures in front colleagues and left the office by mid-afternoon to drink and socialize with his top staff at two bars, the report found. He created a Snapchat group for his top aides that he named “IFA Trouble” and frequently travelled to conferences with female aides where he drank heavily, the report found.
Reynolds fired Jamison, whom she had known for two decades, in March after the pornography incident prompted two women to complain to the governor. Reynolds ordered the investigation in April amid questions about how her administration handled the case.
Independent investigator Mark Weinhardt said he found no evidence that anyone in state government outside of the authority had been aware of Jamison’s behaviour. But his graphic 35-page report said Jamison often boasted about his close relationship with Reynolds, which included helping edit some of her key speeches.
“At least some IFA employees inferred from Mr. Jamison’s claims about his relationship with the Governor that he had the power to squelch complaints about his behaviour. That may have discouraged reports about his behaviour,” the report found.
The two women who suffered the most harassment also received major pay increases from Jamison, and investigators found “evidence of similar personnel decisions with other younger female employees.” In one case, Jamison got the governor’s office to intervene with the Department of Administrative Services to reclassify a woman’s job so he could increase her pay. One witness told investigators that Jamison liked to have “arm candy” with him at conferences.
Jamison told a third employee that she looked sexy after he was drinking at one conference. He apologized when she later confronted him.
Reynolds said the report shows she “made the correct decision” to fire Jamison and that she had no prior knowledge of his misconduct.
“While it is not a secret that Mr. Jamison and I were friends, having served as county treasurers at the same time, I had no idea that he behaved this way,” Reynolds said. “I never witnessed or experienced anything like what is described in the report. Had I known, I would have fired him a long time ago.”
Reynolds told investigators in an interview that Jamison was a “partier” who had a strange sense of humour.
Jamison didn’t return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment about the report. He told investigators that the allegations either weren’t true or were taken out of context, but investigators found his denials weren’t credible.
The report corroborated a letter that one woman sent to Reynolds in March in which she pleaded for the governor’s help stopping Jamison. The woman said Jamison often commented on her breasts and twice tried to get her in his hotel room while travelling, including once after driving drunk to a casino, the report said.
Investigators said two incidents involving another woman stood out as particularly serious.
One involved him grabbing the woman’s breasts while they and other co-workers were at a bar near Okoboji. Jamison later told the woman she could “sue him and take everything that he had,” but nonetheless continued to joke about the incident. In the second, Jamison used his cellphone to play a pornographic video that he tried to show the woman while she was driving them to a meeting in March. “Mr. Jamison said to her, ‘Can you tell when I’m excited?” while looking at his crotch,” the report said.