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The Iowa Department of Health needs to respond to emails from news offices, Reynolds said, but officials there are dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic and the scandal.

Des Moines Register

State attorneys admitted in court this month that an Iowa governor’s employee, Kim Reynolds, told a health department spokesman to keep information about the Iowa testing program requested under the state’s Open Archives Act.

The reception came in response to the state in a lawsuit filed by former Iowa Public Health spokeswoman Polly Carver-Kim. She sued the state in September for wrongful dismissal after she was fired in July. She claims she was fired in part because she tried to comply with the Iowa Open Archives Act by providing information to reporters.

Carver-Kim says in the case that Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett told her at least once not to provide records for test questions to assess patients in Iowa who had already been approved for release by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Carver-Kim said she would follow up with Garrett every week to ask for the recordings to be released. She received only one answer from him: “Hold on.”

Attorneys for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, representing Reynolds, Gareth, and Iowa in the case, have generally denied the allegations in Carver-Kim’s lawsuit, but admitted that Gareth at least once told her not to honor a request for open records.

“At least once, defendant Garrett told the plaintiff to withhold the release of an open request for records, which included recordings related to test reports in Iowa,” state attorneys wrote in the October 7 case.

Previously: A former Iowa public health spokesman is suing the state, claiming she was fired for spreading public information

Sarah Craig, Reynolds’ chief of staff, said in a statement that the governor’s office often reviews responses to requests for records before releasing them.

“It is common for the governor’s office to review the responses to open archives by the executive, especially those related to the COVID-19 response, before releasing them,” Craig said in a statement.

Carver-Kim has been an IDPH spokesperson since 2007 before being fired this year. In the case, she described a series of incidents in which she was criticized or reprimanded for complying with reporters’ requests for information during the COVID-19 pandemic, and said she was gradually relieved of her duties as a public information officer.

A conference to schedule the case is scheduled for November 19.

Coronavirus: The Iowa test informs employees that it will close 4 of its 6 COVID-19 sites by Nov. 6; some could be replaced

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa State House and registry policy. It can be reached by email at sgrubermil@registermedia.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

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