Written by Michael Crowe, Multimedia Journalist - email
DES MOINES (KWWL) -
Thursday, former Department of Criminal Investigations Special Agent Larry Hedlund filed a wrongful termination suit against the State of Iowa.
Hedlund claims that he was dismissed from the Department after he caught Govenor Branstad's SUV speeding. The incident occurred on Highway 20 in April of 2013.
His former superiors, on the other hand, claim he was dismissed for other reasons.
Karen Thalacker is an attorney with Gallagher, Langlas & Gallagher in Waverly. She said, this filing is the next logical step in the process.
"I think for people that have been watching the case, the filing of this lawsuit did not come as a surprise," she said.
Hedlund's filing included two petitions – the first was two counts of wrongful termination, for violation of public policy and violation of Iowa Code Chapter 70A.
The second filed petition is an attempt to keep Hedlund's much-discussed 500-page performance record from being released. Gov. Branstad has said he wishes the public could see the report, but he is not allowed to release it under privacy constraints. He did plan to release to a former Iowa Cheif Justice for an independent review of the case.
"I have got to be so careful," Branstad said, in a July press conference. "I would love to tell you everything, but the lawyers tell me I can't, and this what is so frustrating to me, because I believe in openness. That's why I'm saying instead of making false accusations and only giving people a portion of the facts, let's let the public see all the facts."
Hedlund, on the other hand, said he fears further retaliation from the State.
"People I've known for 25 years have expressed a fear in communicating with me, for fear they'll have retaliation taken against them by the Department of Public Safety," he said.
Thalacker said since the filings, the State now has 20 days to respond to the allegations.
"It's [now] up to the employer, in this case, the State of Iowa, to give a legitimate, non-retaliating reason for the firing," she said. "In this case, they're alleging that there were other performance related issues having nothing to do with the incident, involving the Governor."
She also noted another interesting aspect of the court documents.
"In this case, Governor Branstad was not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit," she said. "However, in the middle of the lawsuit there is a claim that Gov. Branstad defamed, or said something untrue, about Hedlund."
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