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Fired agency spokeswoman sues Iowa governor, top aide

September 3, 2020 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A former spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health has filed a lawsuit against the state, Gov. Kim Reynolds and one of the governor’s top aides that claims she was illegally fired because of her willingness to respond to media requests.

Polly Carver-Kimm said she filed the lawsuit Wednesday against the state, Reynolds and Pat Garrett, a spokesman for the governor, because they violated Iowa’s whistle blower laws when she was forced out of her job in July.

Department spokeswoman Amy McCoy said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation against the state. Garrett didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the lawsuit.

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Carver-Kimm, who had worked as the department’s public information office since 2007, has also filed claims with the State Appeal Board against Reynolds, Garrett and the state.

In her lawsuit, Carver-Kimm claimed the state changed longstanding policy in how it handled press releases and open record requests in March amid the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The changes shifted all press releases to the governor’s office and media inquiries through the deputy director.

In the next few months, Carver-Kimm said her duties were diminished, which she contends was because of her efforts to respond to media requests and comply with Iowa’s open records law.

The lawsuit contends Carver-Kimm was told on July 15 that due to a “restructuring,” she could resign or be fired. The suit seeks compensation for damages, attorney fees, her reinstatement and backpay.