Kirsten Anderson served as communications director for the Iowa state Senate GOP caucus until Friday, when she was fired just hours after raising concerns about a pattern of sexual harassment in the workplace, she claimed in an interview with Iowa's WHO TV.
"Friday morning I went into the office and provided documentation that I wanted the workforce environment to change," Anderson told WHO TV, noting that the sexual harassment policy in place at the state Capitol had been drafted around 30 years ago. "Seven hours later I was fired."
Anderson said that for years there had been a disturbing trend in the statehouse of women being subjected to scrutiny, objectification and ridicule over their appearance. She claimed that fellow staffers and legislators had targeted her, along with a number of her female colleagues.
"[They were saying] things that would make you blush," Anderson said. "Things that you don't want your daughter, your mother, your sister having to put up with. That sort of attitude about women, objectifying women, it has to change, and I think the time is right."
Anderson said she was given no reason for her termination, though Iowa GOP Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix claims she was fired over "career performance" issues that had been documented over a period of time.
In her memo provided to caucus leadership, however, Anderson argued that criticism of her work was motivated by her "complaints about the boys’ club atmosphere in the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus." She continued:
The failure to adopt meaningful policies regarding sexual harassment, among other things, and the continuously crude and hostile work environment I am forced to tolerate each and every day is what this is about. We have no real policy while senators and staff regularly and publically talk about women as object, their body parts as if detached from their bodies leaves me wondering what it will require for this environment to be cleaned up.
Anderson's allegations have been met with mixed reactions in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports. Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has urged the appropriate officials to investigate the charges. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds later echoed his calls, though noted that she hadn't faced harassment herself during her tenure as a state senator.