State Public Health Department director resigns

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health has resigned.

Branstad announced the resignation of Mariannette Miller-Meeks on Thursday but gave no reason for her departure.

Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist and Republican who twice ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, recently was criticized for comments she made at an October event that were highlighted in a Lee newspaper story about food aid. In those remark, Miller-Meeks inaccurately stated that the top item bought with food stamps in Iowa is Mountain Dew.

The statement isn't true and an agency spokeswoman later said "she regrets that she miscommunicated the information."

Miller-Meeks says she will "explore other opportunities outside state government."

Branstad named the agency's deputy director, Gerd Clabaugh, as its interim director.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.