Larry Hedlund Fired Because the Governor was Speeding?

 

branstad-terry-straightonUntil Wednesday, Larry Hedlund worked for the Iowa Department of Public Safety.  Was he fired because he filed a complaint about the governor’s vehicle exceeding the speed limit?

On April 29th, Hedlund, a 25 year veteran Iowa investigator filed a complaint that the vehicle carrying Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was traveling at an excessive rate of speed on the highway.

He further claimed that it was not unusual for the governor’s driver to exceed the speed limit, in “what apparently is a common practice that puts the general public in danger.”

He was relieved from duty on May 1st.

Hedlund’s position was special agent in charge of the criminal investigation unit, which includes Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Added to his complaint was a criticism about his own inability to stop the governor’s vehicle himself.

The Des Moines Register reported that Hedlund radioed a state dispatcher, and asked them to have troopers stop a speeding ‘Tahoe’ which was “doing a hard ninety.”  When the vehicle’s speed was recorded, it was 84 mph.

When one of the troopers caught up with the Tahoe, the license plate said “Car 1,” and discovered it belonged to the governor.

On May 1st, two days after Hedlund filed his complaint, the head of the criminal investigation division, Charis Paulson, wrote a response.  Instead of acknowledging Hedlund’s complaint, he suspended him with these accusations.  The “Notice of Investigation” announced that Hedlund allegedly “was disrespectful during a conference call with DCI leadership on 4/18/2013.” Hedlund also was accused of operating his state vehicle during what was supposed to be vacation time on April 26, of failing to request leave before taking it on April 30 and engaging in “conduct that impairs the operations of the Department.”

Today, Wednesday, Hedlund was fired from his $96,518 per year job.

State officials refused to comment on his dismissal, but stated that Hedlund’s complaint about the speeding governor’s vehicle was not a consideration in the action.

We’ve all heard the term, ‘executive power.’  Is this case an abuse of power?  It wouldn’t be the first time a powerful political figure used his or her position to silence criticism.

Was Larry Hedlund fired because the governor of Iowa was speeding, or after 25 years of service did his superiors discover that he was an undesirable employee?

Alfred James reporting

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