Crooked Judge or Retaliation? Judge Susan Ackerman, in Iowa accused of lying about daughter to get health policy. She claims retaliation.
December 23, 2016, Iowa City, IA — An Iowa judge who was accused of insurance fraud and fired after helping expose improper influence in Gov. Terry Branstad's administration now faces a felony charge, two years later.
Susan Ackerman, former administrative law judge for Iowa Workforce Development, surrendered Wednesday on a warrant charging her with making fraudulent submissions.
A complaint unsealed Thursday alleges the 56-year-old falsely certified that her married daughter was single so that she could receive state health insurance in 2013 and 2014. Ackerman was fired over the same allegation two years ago.
Ackerman has denied any fraudulent intent, noting she asked an agency human resources employee for permission to add the daughter. Her supporters argue that her firing and the prosecution are retribution for her legislative testimony critical of Branstad and his aides in 2014.
Retaliation Claim Made Over Charges Against Former IWD Judge
Posted 7:12 am, December 21, 2016, by Sonya Heitshusen, Updated at 07:13AM, December 21, 2016
DES MOINES, Iowa — A former administrative law judge for Iowa Workforce Development turned herself into authorities Wednesday morning.
Susan Ackerman is charged with filing a false document when she worked at IWD. The document was related to Ackerman’s attempt to place one of her daughters on her insurance.
Her daughter, Jennifer Koockogey, says the charges are retaliation for Ackerman’s testimony before a legislative oversight committee in 2014. Ackerman, and other IWD judges, claimed IWD Director, Teresa Wahlert tried to influence their ruling’s in unemployment appeals cases to favor businesses over employees. Ackerman was fired in January of last year, just months after her testimony and two weeks after filing a civil rights lawsuit against Wahlert, IWD, and the State of Iowa.
“I blame a very broken system,” says Koockogey, who accompanied her mother to the Polk County Jail this morning. “I believe there’s a lot of cronyism going all the way to the top of the system. When you have political appointees who aren’t in a position to really be qualified to do the jobs they’re doing and are doing them out of favoritism, that’s how you get the system now.”
Wahlert unexpectedly resigned her position in January last year, following criticism of her conduct and a Department of Labor investigation which confirmed Wahlert attempted to intimidate the judges.
The charge against Ackerman is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine.