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Ticket payment from fired investigator is refunded

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:13 a.m. CST

DES MOINES (AP) — A state trooper who was ticketed for speeding while driving Gov. Terry Branstad doesn’t want the former criminal investigator who complained about the fast SUV to pay the fine.

Larry Hedlund on Friday 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 but was let go after a trooper realized it was the governor’s car.

But on Tuesday, the payment was refunded to Hedlund.

Lawrence submitted a letter to the county that issued the ticket, asking that the payment be refunded because he had not consented to it. He has not yet decided how to plead on the ticket. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20.

Tuesday evening, the Department of Public Safety issued a news release that quoted Lawrence as telling his supervisors, “This speeding ticket is my responsibility and I will take responsibility for my own actions.

“As a citizen and motorist, I want to access the court system and exercise my rights to due process. When the ticket was paid without my knowledge, those choices and rights were taken away.”

Hedlund said he didn’t mean any offense by paying the ticket.

“If I overstepped my bounds in paying it, I apologize. He is certainly entitled to pay his own fine or contest the charge,” Hedlund said in an email Tuesday. “No offense meant in any way. I should have considered his right to appeal the charge before paying the fine.”

Hedlund filed a complaint April 29, after the speeding incident, saying the governor should not be above the law. He was soon put on administrative leave and was fired last week for what the Department of Public Safety called unbecoming conduct. That included sending “negative and disrespectful” emails in which he criticized DCI Director Chari Paulson’s policies and leadership to subordinates.

Hedlund, 55, has pledged to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. He had been a special agent in charge with the Division of Criminal Investigation when he was fired.

Hedlund, who maintains he was fired after 25 years with the agency 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 said he had no contact with Lawrence before paying the ticket, but he did send the trooper an email.

He said Tuesday that he still hasn’t had contact with Lawrence.