Testimony: ‘sexually inappropriate’ banter in Iowa Senate

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Two male co-workers have publicly testified in support of a former female colleague’s claims that she was sexually harassed while working for Republicans in the Iowa Senate.

After five years on the job, Kirsten Anderson was fired in 2013 for poor work. Anderson sued, charging she was fired for complaining about the “boys’ club” environment in the Iowa Senate.

Two other members of the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus Staff testified in court yesterday that they were witness to an “unprofessional atmosphere” where “sexually inappropriate” banter was common — and Russ Trimble said it wasn’t just the staff who participated. Trimble said he was on the senate floor a few years ago when a senator made inappropriate comments and gestures to a woman about her breasts. WHO Television broadcast his comments on the stand.

“At that moment, I looked down and I just slid away,” Trimble said.

Trimble testified that the comment was made by then-Senator Shawn Hamerlinck, a Republican from De Witt who is now serving as chairman of the Clinton County Board of Supervisors.

Three current Republican senators also testified yesterday as did a former staff director for Senate Republicans. All four men said they were unaware of complaints about the work environment in staff offices and on the senate floor.