AP NEWS

Iowa labor commissioner to retire after firings, inquiries

February 22, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Labor Commissioner Michael Mauro says he will retire amid controversy, after a long career in public service.

Friday’s announcement comes amid allegations that Mauro and top aides oversaw a hostile work environment and retaliated against whistleblowers.

Mauro says he’ll retire April 1, with four years left in his second six-year term as commissioner following his 2011 appointment by Gov. Terry Branstad.

A Democrat, Mauro previously served one term as Iowa secretary of state and two decades as Polk County auditor and director of elections.

Mauro fired Iowa Occupational Health and Safety Administration director Jens Nissen in October. OSHA supervisor Deborah Babb retired under pressure the same day, following an investigation into allegations that she mistreated subordinates.

Nissen has alleged Mauro and his deputy ran the office like a clique, giving friends favoritism and punishing critics. The state ombudsman’s office is investigating.

Separately, two safety inspectors who say they complained about Babb were fired last month. They’re alleging retaliation.