Yet another person in the Iowa Senate has lost their job over a sexual harassment matter. Senator Waylon Brown’s legislative clerk, Jake Dagel, was fired this week following a complaint made against him for sexual harassment. Secretary of the Senate Charlie Smithson confirmed the firing to Starting Line late this afternoon.
“A credible complaint of sexual harassment was made,” Smithson said in an email. “Upon acknowledging the conduct in question, Mr. Dagel was immediately terminated under the Senate’s strict policy prohibiting harassment in the workplace.”
Dagel clerked this year for Brown, who represents Senate District 26 in Northern Iowa and was first elected in 2016.
Rumors of Dagel’s firing had circulated the Capitol since Thursday morning. Several Statehouse sources informed Starting Line that the incident in question revolved around Dagel asking a rather inappropriate question of a female clerk, though Starting Line hasn’t been able to confirm the exact details.
Though still in his 20’s, Dagel had already racked up a rather colorful and controversial career in Iowa politics. He successfully sued DMACC over free speech zones and won a spate over his opposition to DMACC’s support of an LGBTQ conference. At the time, Dagel complained the gay rights conference encouraged bullying of Christians. He demanded that DMACC equally fund one of his own events with a right-wing speaker that lectured against homosexuality – the college ended up doing so.
Dagel also made some news on Iowa State University’s campus when he tricked students into signing a petition to end women’s suffrage while working as a field organizer for the right-wing Turning Points USA organization. Dagel’s apparent point was that students don’t know enough about women’s history to realize they were signing something that encourage taking voting rights away from women.
Considering Turning Point USA’s past controversies over treatment of minorities and attacks on professors, however, it seems more likely his intent was to embarrass feminists.
Dagel’s swift firing seems to contrast with how Senate Republicans handled concerns with their staff during the Kirsten Anderson situation. If nothing else, Dagel’s actions seem particularly incredible given Senate clerks this year have had a front-row seat to Senate Republicans’ multiple controversies over sexual harassment and the fallout from them.
by Pat Rynard