The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

August 22, 2013

ISU worker didn't prove whistleblower claim

IOWA CITY — A former Iowa State University employee was the victim of a long and vicious harassment campaign by superiors, but he failed to prove that their actions came in response to his exposing his boss’ financial misconduct, a court ruled Wednesday.

The Iowa Court of Appeals rejected a jury’s finding that former ISU College of Engineering marketing employee Dennis Smith was the victim of whistleblower retaliation, throwing out a landmark $784,000 award in his favor.

But the court said Iowa State did intentionally inflict emotional distress on Smith through the actions of his superiors, which included false accusations to campus police that Smith was a security threat and potential mass murderer, and attempts to force him out. The court upheld the jury’s $500,000 award for Smith on that claim.

Smith, 60, said he disagreed with the court’s reading of Iowa’s whistleblower statute, saying it was so narrow that it would offer little protection to employees who report wrongdoing. He pledged to ask the Iowa Supreme Court to review that issue.

“It is open season on whistleblowers if this ruling stands,” he said.

ISU’s general counsel, Paul Tanaka, said the school was grateful that the whistleblower claim was vacated, but troubled that the other was upheld.

“We don’t believe it’s factually or legally sound,” he said, adding the school will consult with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office in determining whether to appeal.

A key issue Wednesday was whether Smith’s employers retaliated against him for his 2007 report of financial misconduct by his supervisor, Pamela Reinig, to then-ISU President Greg Geoffroy. Smith’s report prompted Geoffroy to order an audit that found Reinig had kept $58,000 from an outside organization for work done by the college, instead of depositing payments in an ISU account. Reinig resigned and was criminally prosecuted.

Text Only
National News
  • U.S. warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

    U.S. health officials on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to the three West African countries hit by an outbreak of Ebola.

    August 1, 2014

  • State Dept: 'No American is proud' of tactics

    The State Department has endorsed the broad conclusions of a harshly critical Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks, a report that accuses the agency of brutally treating terror suspects and misleading Congress, according to a White House document.

    July 31, 2014

  • Rodden, Danny.jpg Indiana sheriff accused of lying about relationship with prostitute

    The sheriff of Clark County, Ind., faces an eight-count federal indictment that accuses him of lying about paying a prostitute for a sex act and giving her a badge so that she could claim a discount rate at a hotel.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140727-AMX-GUNS271.jpg Beretta, other gun makers heading to friendlier states

    In moving south and taking 160 jobs with it, Beretta joins several other prominent gunmakers abandoning liberal states that passed tough gun laws after the Newtown shooting.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 29, 2014

  • Medicare hospital fund to last 4 years longer

    Medicare's finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program's giant hospital trust fund won't be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year's estimate.

    July 28, 2014

  • After 6 weeks, finally a deal on VA health care

    After more than six weeks of sometimes testy talks, House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a compromise plan to fix a veterans health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 28, 2014

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III faces a $1.7 million civil suit filed by a brother over a lifeline to save a family carpet business.

    July 25, 2014

  • Official: Hospital gunman intended to kill others

    A psychiatric patient ranted about a hospital gun ban before opening fire at the suburban medical complex, killing his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist before the doctor pulled out his own weapon and fired back, authorities said Friday.

    July 25, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:


    July 25, 2014

AP Video