Democrats are accusing Iowa’s Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of trying to shut down the federally funded agency that monitors disability rights in the state after he was criticized by its director for failing to protect senior citizens in nursing homes.
“We expect better from government in Iowa,” Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky told the Des Moines Register
. “Going behind the scenes to pull funding from an organization that advocates on behalf of Iowans with disabilities is inappropriate. Doing so because you were criticized is childish.”
According to the Register, Dvorsky’s comments followed a series of inquiries from the governor’s chief of staff to Republican Rep. Tom Latham’s office about funding for the agency, Disability Rights Iowa, and whether its responsibilities could be shifted to another organization.
The agency is part of a nationwide network of protection and advocacy organizations created by Congress. But in some states they operate under the umbrella of state government.
Branstad’s office dismissed the accusations as a “typical, baseless political attack.” But the newspaper reported that Disability Rights Iowa Director Sylvia Piper was fired from her job by its board after the inquiries were made to Latham’s office.
Piper had written in a public letter that because of Branstad’s “political choices, people are suffering and dying on a regular basis in Iowa’s nursing homes.”
The Register reported that Disability Rights Iowa had also criticized Branstad’s decision earlier this year to eliminate the jobs of 10 nursing home inspectors and two abuse investigators.
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