After a decade of legal fights and millions of taxpayer dollars funding court battles, the Iowa Supreme Court finds a lack of evidence of Branstad discriminating against former Workers Comp Commissioner Chris Godfrey and has thrown out the Godfrey lawsuit.
A district court had ruled in favor of Godfrey after trial and awarded him $1.5 million in damages.
The Supreme Court says there is no evidence to support such a conclusion. According to the court, there was no evidence Branstad was “anti-gay.” And there was no evidence Branstad even had knowledge of Godfrey’s sexual orientation.
“We reject as illogical and fallacious the district court’s conclusion that a jury could infer Governor Branstad knew Godfrey was gay because there was ‘[a]bundant evidence … presented to establish the Republican Party was ‘anti-gay’ in its policies and platform planks,'” McDonald wrote.
In the end, six of the seven justices agreed Branstad had the power under the law to reduce (or increase) the salaries of appointed positions. No word yet on whether the state will seek compensation for the vast expenses spent by taxpayers defending the claims the Iowa Supreme Court says were unsupported by evidence and logic.
State Auditor Rob Sand voted in 2019 not to appeal the ruling. If Sand had his way, the state would have been on the hook for millions of dollars. Sand has not commented on today’s ruling.