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September 10, 2013

Branstad: London had plenty of chances

DES MOINES — Brian London, who resigned as the commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety last week after a rash of scandals, was given plenty of chances to run the department effectively, Iowa’s governor shot back Monday in response to London’s complaint he was undermined from the beginning.

London resigned last Tuesday, ending an 11-month tenure marked by what employees called a difficult management style and plummeting morale. There also was a scandal involving the governor’s speeding vehicle and a diplomatic incident over a remark about Filipinos.

“I think we gave him plenty of chances. In fact there are a lot of people who said maybe we should have gotten rid of him sooner but basically I don’t believe in looking back,” said Gov. Branstad in a conference call to reporters from a trade mission in Japan. “I want to look ahead.”

London, in a Friday interview with the Cedar Rapids newspaper, the Gazette, claimed he was never given a chance in Iowa and his treatment by state officials has ruined him professionally.

Branstad moved quickly after London’s resignation to appoint Larry Noble, a 30-year department veteran who had resigned from the same job last year citing personal reasons.

London started work in October 2012 overseeing the state agency that includes the Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

London and two other officials were sued last month over their roles in firing Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Larry Hedlund, who contends superiors retaliated against him for filing a complaint in April about the governor’s speeding vehicle. Hedlund’s lawsuit claims London was a micromanager who pressured subordinates through threats of disciplinary action.

London also apologized in August for telling employees that, in his experience with lie detection tests, Filipinos were difficult to polygraph. London claimed he was making a point about cultural barriers, but his remark was condemned by the Philippine ambassador to the U.S., who called to demand an explanation.

A publicly listed telephone number could not be located for London, who recently bought a new home in West Des Moines. A DPS spokesman said the department does not have contact information for former employees and couldn’t provide a number.

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