IOWA CITY, Iowa — A state employee has alleged she was warned that an Iowa State Patrol captain was “too close” to Gov. Kim Reynolds to face any consequences for mishandling her report that she was harassed by one of his troopers.
A spokeswoman for Reynolds said that if true, the warning attributed to Randy Olmstead, the executive officer in the Department of Public Safety, was highly inappropriate.
“Governor Reynolds would be incredibly disappointed to hear that sentiment expressed by anyone in state government,” press secretary Brenna Smith said.
The allegation came in a complaint filed in April by legislative security coordinator Shawna Ferguson and was recently obtained by The Associated Press.
Ferguson alleged that Capt. Mark Logsdon, who oversees Capitol police and the governor’s security detail, took no action when she reported that trooper Wade Karp had harassed her last August in private Facebook messages.
In the messages, Karp repeatedly sought romantic meetings with her and warned that she was heading in a “harmful direction” with her current partner. When Ferguson told him that she didn’t want to discuss the matter, Karp responded: “I will ask for the LORD God to help clear your heart.”
Ferguson said she was concerned because of Karp’s tone and prior behavior, which included discharging a service rifle in their Des Moines office in December 2016 under circumstances that remain unexplained. Ferguson wrote that Logsdon never asked to see the messages, told her she was a “strong woman” who could confront Karp on her own and added that he could understand Karp’s thinking.
“Captain Logsdon told me that Wade is like a boy in high school; if a girl looks at him, he assumes that she is interested,” Ferguson wrote in the complaint to the Department of Administrative Services, which handles executive branch personnel matters.
Ferguson reported Karp’s messages to the department’s professional standards bureau in early September, after Logsdon took no action. The bureau opened a misconduct inquiry and placed Karp on paid leave the same day.
Karp, a 10-year veteran, was fired last month for what the department called “intimidating, threatening and unwelcome” interactions with colleagues, following a 10-month leave in which he collected $50,000 in salary. The state hasn’t explained why it took so long to investigate Karp, who has filed a grievance to get his job back and characterizes his messages to Ferguson as respectful and non-threatening.
As Karp’s leave dragged on, Ferguson wrote that she met with Olmstead, a top aide to Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan, to twice complain about Logsdon’s inaction. She says Olmstead told her Logsdon was untouchable for political reasons.
“On both occasions, he has stated that they cannot do anything about Capt. Mark Logsdon because he is too close to the governor,” she wrote.
The complaint was released by Ferguson’s attorney, Roxanne Conlin. The state has rejected records requests for the document, saying it is confidential.
Logsdon and Olmstead haven’t responded to requests for comment.
Ferguson also met with Colin Smith, a lawyer in the governor’s office, to express her concerns about the department’s response in March, records show.
Sexual harassment training for executive branch employees, mandated by Reynolds, warns that managers who fail to take action on complaints will face disciplinary action up to termination.
The administration investigated Ferguson’s complaint against Logsdon but has refused to release findings, saying they are confidential. Ferguson has been informed that the investigation didn’t find any violations by Logsdon, according to Conlin, who called that conclusion wrong. Reynolds expressed confidence in the investigation last month.
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