Iowa Senate official warned of payback over COVID-19 inquiry

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A top administrator in the Republican-controlled Iowa Senate threatened retribution against a GOP appointee who oversees workplace safety after inspectors said they would make public their concerns about COVID-19 risks at the Capitol. 

Notes show Charlie Smithson, the secretary of the Senate, criticized Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts for “not knowing better” and told inspectors at an April 2 meeting that the issue would be raised at his next confirmation hearing. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Roberts labor commissioner in 2019. If reappointed in 2023, he would need support from 34 of 50 senators to serve another six-year term. 

Smithson says he “expressed frustration in a stupid way” and that he has no influence over the confirmation process.

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