Some observers are accusing Iowa governor Terry Branstad of avoiding questions about a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former state employee who's gay -- but the governor denies this, saying he's simply busy.
"I am running for governor," Branstad, who is up for reelection in November, told The Des Moines Register Monday. "I have a very active schedule."
Former workers' compensation commissioner Christopher Godfrey filed the suit, alleging that he faced discrimination for being gay, plus extortion and defamation. He also says state officials tried to force him to resign and used illegal tactics in doing so. He left the position in August to take a job with the federal government.
Branstad says he never discriminated against Godfrey. "I treat everybody with respect and dignity," the governor told reporters Monday. He also said Godfrey has delayed the proceedings in the suit, but Godfrey's lawyer said Branstad is the one causing the delay.
"We have done nothing to delay this lawsuit," lawyer Roxanne Conlin told the Register. [Branstad] has done absolutely everything that could be done to delay this lawsuit." He and his staff, she said, have been uncooperative about answering questions and providing documents, and she had to get a court order to compel them to do so. Branstad's remarks about Godfrey delaying the suit, she added, are "disgusting."
Branstad is scheduled to appear in state court November 26 to answer questions related to the suit -- his lawyers objected to September and October dates. Godfrey has filed a lawsuit in federal court as well, but it is on hold while the state proceedings go on, Conlin said.