Second Iowa trooper caught speeding with Branstad

IOWA CITY – Just as Gov. Terry Branstad was trying to move beyond a speeding scandal, a second trooper driving the governor was pulled over and disciplined for driving over the limit, officials said Friday.

Trooper Darren Argabright was pulled over Aug. 27 for speeding while driving Branstad to a town hall meeting in Hampton, about 90 miles north of Des Moines, said Iowa State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Scott Bright. Argabright was stopped on Highway 3, a two-lane highway with a 55-mph limit, and given a warning ticket by a Franklin County deputy.

Franklin County Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier he said wasn’t sure how fast Argabright was driving but that it had to be less than 10 mph over the limit, his deputy’s criteria for issuing a warning instead of a ticket. He said the deputy didn’t cut the driver a break simply because the governor and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were inside.

“He’d even give his wife a ticket if he caught her speeding,” Richtsmeier said of the deputy, Linn Larson. “He’s very black and white,”

Argabright did not know how fast he was going when he was stopped, the deputy didn’t tell him and his speed was not listed on the warning ticket, Bright said.

Argabright, who’s been with the patrol since 1997 and is assigned to the governor’s security detail, notified superiors immediately, and the patrol launched an investigation, Bright said. Argabright has accepted responsibility for speeding and has received disciplinary action, the details of which can’t be released, he said.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the governor was satisfied with the Department of Public Safety’s investigation and discipline.

“The governor has made clear that his security detail is to obey all traffic laws, and he does not tolerate any exceptions,” he said.

But Branstad’s political opponents jumped on the news.

“There he goes again. Did he not learn anything from the public outcry over the summer?” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch, a state senator from Des Moines, said in a statement. “No one is above the law in this state.”

The August event in Hampton was Branstad’s third town hall-style meeting of the day, following appearances in Clarion and Webster City, his schedule shows.

Argabright was driving a state-owned Chevy Tahoe but not the same one involved in an April 26 speeding incident, which led to weeks of fallout for Branstad.

Branstad in July ordered the troopers driving him not to speed, except in case of emergency, after trooper Steve Lawrence was clocked transporting him and Reynolds at 84 mph in a 65-mph zone but was let go.