It’s probably one job Gov. Kim Reynolds won’t brag about creating while on the campaign trail. Tim Albrecht, who served as Reynolds’ deputy chief of staff, left the governor’s office in March to take a new job as a regional manager of strategic initiatives for Apple, Ryan Foley of the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
While deputy chief of staff, Albrecht vigorously promoted the deal signed by Reynolds last year that gave Apple $208 million dollars in state and local tax breaks and subsidies to build two data storage centers in Waukee. Apple promised the two new centers would create 50 new permanent jobs, which works out to one job per every $4.16 million of taxpayer funds.
As Foley points out, Albrecht not only worked in his official capacity to promote the deal, he also sent more than two dozen pro-deal tweets in less one month from his personal Twitter account.
— Tim Albrecht (@TimAlbrechtIA) August 24, 2017
According to a statement to the AP from Reynolds’ official spokesperson, Albrecht’s advocacy for having taxpayers subsidize the creation of 50 permanent jobs in Waukee is “unrelated” to his new job at Apple. Spokesperson Brenna Smith pointed out Albrecht is working in Apple’s education division, not its data storage division.
The massive amount of tax breaks and subsidies provided to Apple made the Waukee deal controversial, with Democrats in the state legislature opposing it. At the time the deal was concluded, Reynolds justified it by saying, “This puts Iowa on the world stage. This gives us the opportunity with a global company like Apple to say we are the place to be.”
Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson provided a different description of deal to Bloomberg, “It’s a net fiscal loss that it’s a straightforward giveaway in the economy to a company that’s extraordinarily wealthy and it makes no sense from an economist’s point of view. It only makes sense from a politician’s point of view.”
Emails obtained by Foley under the state’s open records law show Albrecht contacted the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board in February to learn what laws might apply to his taking a job with a company that has had business with the governor’s office. Megan Tooker, the board’s director, emailed Albrecht information but never heard any further from him. According to Tooker, as long as Albrecht avoids contacting the governor’s office on behalf of Apple for two years, he will likely be in compliance with Iowa law.
Smith described her former colleague Albrecht as “one of the most respected communicators in Iowa.” Albrecht was, however, less than communicative when contacted by the AP for a comment.
“Albrecht, who made $121,000 annually in his state job, referred questions to Apple representatives, who declined to comment on Albrecht’s hiring, job duties and salary,” according to Foley.