By all accounts, Chris Godfrey has done a good job as Iowa’s workers’ compensation commissioner. But he claims Republican Governor Terry Branstad (right) has repeatedly cut his pay and requested his resignation because he’s gay—so he’s suing the state for $1 million.
Speaking to The Des Moines Register, Godfrey said he felt like he was dealing with a grade-school tormentor, not a 65-year-old career politician: “I can lead by example and say, ‘It’s OK to stand up to someone, even someone as strong as the governor of the state of Iowa. I can stand up to that bully, and it’s going to be OK.”
He and his lawyer, Roxanne Conlin, don’t have any outright evidence that Branstad’s motive was homophobia, but they’re convinced they have a case. “There’s no legitimate reason for what happened here,” she said to WHO-TV. “There just isn’t. And all the efforts to make up reasons are provably false. So we’re left with the inevitable conclusion that what happened here was discrimination.”
The governor’s spokesperson issued this statement: “[Governor Branstad] did not know that Christopher Godfrey was gay until Mr. Godfrey stated so in his claim. Governor Branstad’s record over the last 30 years, both as governor and as the president of Des Moines University, has shown Iowans that he believes a person’s sexual orientation does not affect his or her ability to do a good job.”
Was it discrimination, office politics or some other factor that’s made Branstad so sour on the commissioner. Who knows, maybe Branstad just wants to sack Godfrey, a holdover from the previous Democratic administration, so he can reward one of his GOP cronies with the high-paying position.
In any case, Branstad’s lawyered up with high-powered attorneys to defend himself against the accusations.
Photo: Gage Skidmore