Iowa state auditor says taxpayers shouldn’t pay Branstad case appeal

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s auditor says a state panel should stop paying appeal costs in a lawsuit filed against former Gov. Terry Branstad, who was found by a jury to have discriminated against a former state official.

Auditor Rob Sand says in a letter given Friday to the Iowa Executive Council that he will vote against any appeal costs in the lawsuit filed by former Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey against Branstad.

A jury awarded Godfrey $1.5 million in July after finding Branstad and a staffer discriminated against Godfrey in 2011 because he’s gay and retaliated against him.

Attorney costs to taxpayers could reach $6 million and are climbing as Branstad’s attorneys continue to file motions attempting to overturn the verdict.

Sand is a member of the Executive Council, which is responsible for authorizing the state’s litigation expenses. Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, also a council member, has voted recently not to pay legal bills in the case.

Both are Democrats. Branstad is a Republican.

Council members Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, all Republicans, didn’t immediately respond to messages.

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