Fired Iowa investigator pays trooper’s ticket

DES MOINES – A former Iowa criminal investigator fired after complaining about Gov. Terry Branstad’s speeding SUV has paid the speeding ticket issued to a state trooper driving the vehicle.

On Friday, Larry Hedlund paid the $181.50 ticket issued to Steve Lawrence, the trooper who was driving Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds in the governor’s SUV on April 26. The vehicle was clocked by a deputy traveling 84 mph in a 65-mph zone on Highway 20.

Hedlund, who maintains he was fired in retaliation for complaining about the governor’s speeding vehicle, said Saturday that he paid Lawrence’s ticket after reading news accounts that Branstad “had no intention of stepping up and doing so.”

Hedlund, who had been a special agent in charge with the Division of Criminal Investigation when he was fired, said he had no contact with Lawrence before paying the ticket. But he did send the trooper an email.

“The complaint I filed was never intended to hurt you or cost you,” Hedlund’s email said. “I have said it before and I will continue to say it and believe you were only doing what you were expected to do on 26 April.”

Hedlund said Saturday he had not gotten a response from Lawrence.

The ticket was paid the same day Branstad asked former Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Louis Lavorato to examine Hedlund’s firing and report his findings publicly. The governor said he ordered the review in the hopes of disproving Hedlund’s accusation that his firing was retaliation for complaining about the speeding incident.

In late April, Hedlund had reported that the governor’s SUV zipped past him doing “a hard 90” and called a dispatcher to send a trooper to investigate. The Chevy Tahoe was clocked at 84. After racing to catch up, a state trooper ended the pursuit after seeing the vehicle was “Car 1,” the governor’s.

Hedlund filed a complaint April 29, warning Public Safety Commissioner Brian London that the three-vehicle pursuit through traffic endangered safety and that the governor should not be above the law.

DCI Director Chari Paulson responded by asking Hedlund why he was driving his state vehicle on a vacation day, and the 25-year veteran was soon placed on administrative leave. Hedlund, who said he had worked part of that day, had no prior discipline.

DPS fired Hedlund last week for what it called unbecoming conduct, which included sending “negative and disrespectful” emails in which he criticized Paulson’s policies and leadership to subordinates. Hedlund, 55, has pledged to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.