Weekly News Roundup: Former Kansas Medicaid Director Comes to Iowa, Iowan Resigns from Homeland Security Post

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Former Kansas Medicaid director Mike Randol. Photo: Health Management Associates

The Informer’s weekly news roundup, presented in partnership with KHOI community radio.

Former Director of Kansas Medicaid Program to Run Iowa’s

Michael Randol, the former director of Kansas’ controversial Medicaid program, has been selected to lead Iowa’s $5 billion program, which has been plagued with problems including patients losing or receiving reduced coverage and insurers leaving the state since former Gov. Terry Branstad privatized the system. Randol directed a similarly troubled privatized program in his state called KanCare, departing last month before a delayed rollout of revisions to the $3.2 billion plan that serves 425,000 Kansans. Finn Bullers, a graduate of Iowa State University’s journalism program and Kansas reporter who died last year at 52 after suffering from a disabling case of muscular dystrophy, was an outspoken critic of the privatized program in Kansas, where he had to fight to maintain coverage he’d relied on for his survival. “Gov. [Sam] Brownback painted a bullseye on my back,” Bullers once said, “claiming me to be a cheat, trying to scam the system — a poster boy, if you will, for Medicaid fraud and abuse in Kansas. But my only motive was to continue to breathe.”

Iowan Resigns from Department of Homeland Security Post Over Racist Statements

A prominent Iowa Republican named Jamie Johnson has resigned as the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships following a report from CNN’s KFile about disparaging remarks he made in the past about African Americans and Muslims. An ordained minister and former talk radio host, Johnson blamed the black community for creating city “slums” and said that Islam was good for nothing except for “oil and dead bodies.” Johnson introduced Donald Trump at an August 2016 campaign rally in Des Moines, where he prayed that God grant Trump the wisdom of the Biblical figure King Solomon, who was led astray from God because of his obscene wealth and 1,000 wives and concubines.

CNN’s KFile is run by reporter Andrew Kaczynski, who also published past comments made by another former Iowa talk radio host, Sam Clovis, after his ill-fated nomination by Trump to serve as the US Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist.

Iowa Senate GOP Concludes Harassment Investigation, Won’t Release It

Republicans in the Iowa Senate have said their internal investigation into sexual harassment among members of their caucus office has been completed, but they will not release the final report to the public. The investigation was carried out as the result of a lawsuit filed by former communications director Kirsten Anderson alleging a “boys’ club” culture of sexual harassment in the office. Anderson received a $1.75 million settlement. Senate Republicans previously announced the creation of a new HR position under their oversight to address future complaints. However, they refused to allow an independent investigation into her allegations and are continuing to stick by their story that Anderson was fired not in retaliation for filing a harassment complaint but instead because of poor work performance, despite the unanimous decision of a Polk County jury to the contrary.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.