Iowa governor taps legal counsel to be interim chief of staff

Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday that a lawyer for his office will serve as his chief of staff until he's able to name a permanent replacement.

Brenna Findley will replace Jeff Boeyink, who said last week that he was resigning effective this Friday.

"Brenna will provide continuity within our office as I search for a new chief of staff," said Branstad in a news release. "I am pleased Brenna has agreed to serve in this important role, and will rely on her leadership as we continue the work and operations of my administration."

Branstad is leaving on a trade mission to India and Japan on Friday. He will not name a permanent chief of staff before he returns to Iowa on Sept. 18.

Findley previously worked as U.S. Rep. Steve King's chief of staff. She was the Republican candidate for state Attorney General in 2010. She has served in the Branstad administration since January 2011. She recently drew scrutiny for attending a meeting of the Iowa Board of Medicine and advising members on how they could quickly consider banning a statewide abortion pill dispensing system.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan cited Findley's experience with King and said this appointment was a sign that Branstad was growing more conservative in his choices.

"Steve King has been nothing but an embarrassment to Iowans - his hateful remarks and failures on leadership are completely offensive. The Governor has now appointed someone who has led the charge for King style far right extremism to run his administration, and I hope Iowans are as upset and outraged as I am," Brennan said in an emailed statement.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said Findley was well qualified for the job.

"Brenna Findley is a smart, talented and hard-working member of the governor's administration. Brenna's qualifications are second to none, and politicizing an interim appointment exposes just how absurd, pathetic and desperate politics has become. We reject these D.C.-style smears and believe Iowans deserve better," Albrecht said in an email.