IOWA CITY — Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who is running for Congress as a budget-cutting conservative, allowed his top aide to keep collecting a $126,000 annual salary for months after deciding to eliminate his job, The Associated Press has learned.
Schultz decided in May 2012 to cut the office's chief deputy position held for 17 months by Jim Gibbons, a former Iowa State wrestling coach and Republican congressional candidate, under a restructuring that ultimately saved money. But rather than dismiss Gibbons quickly as he did to four career workers laid off that summer, Schultz took unusual steps that kept his political appointee on the payroll through the end of the year.
Schultz said in an interview that he looked into whether he could give Gibbons severance pay, but the Department of Administrative Services advised that wasn't permitted. He was told that he could instead let Gibbons work from home until his resignation date, and Schultz said he allowed him to do so through June as the office's elections deputy Mary Mosiman took over Gibbons' duties.
But Schultz said the work-from-home practice struck him as wasteful and he directed Gibbons to return to the office in July and serve as "a resource" during the management transition until he either found a new job or December 31, whichever came first. He said that he didn't want to fire Gibbons sooner because his wife was recovering from a serious illness and he believed it could take months to combine the two deputy positions.
"Jim was no longer managing projects," Schultz said. "But it was very clear he had to be there on a daily basis and be available for support."
Schultz said he didn't think about cutting the salary tied to Gibbons' Public Service Executive 6 rank, which is for supervisors involved in "decisions at the highest management level in the agency." He said he was focused more on achieving long-term savings.