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Aide to Iowa governor touts Apple deal, gets job at company

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds does a walk through Jan. 8, 2018, in the Iowa House chambers with deputy chief of staff Tim Albrecht, left, at the Statehouse in Des Moines before her Condition of the State address the next day.

AP PHOTO

IOWA CITY (AP) — A top aide to Gov. Kim Reynolds took a management job with tech giant Apple months after helping promote a $208 million incentive package for the company’s planned Iowa data center as a good deal for taxpayers.

Tim Albrecht left as Reynolds’ deputy chief of staff to begin work at Apple in March as a regional manager of strategic initiatives. Albrecht’s position is “unrelated” to the $1.3 billion complex the company is building outside Des Moines, a deal the administration negotiated, announced and defended when Albrecht was Reynolds’ senior adviser, according to the governor’s office.

Reynolds’ press secretary Brenna Smith said Albrecht is working in Apple’s education department.

“Tim is one of the most respected communicators in Iowa, and the governor is grateful for his many years of service to the state,” Smith said. Megan Tooker, director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, said Albrecht is not barred from working for Apple but must comply with laws designed to prevent ex-state officials from cashing in on their influence. For instance, for two years after leaving state employment, officials cannot lobby their former agencies or be paid by companies “in relation to any case, proceeding or application” with which they were involved in government.

Albrecht, 40, spoke by phone with Tooker on Feb. 20 about his prospective employment, according to an email exchange obtained under the open records law. Tooker sent him links to applicable laws and the board’s key prior opinion on the matter. She said she hasn’t heard from him since and he didn’t request a formal opinion for his situation.

Albrecht’s position at Apple might be legal but will look problematic to the public, said attorney Gary Dickey, former general counsel to Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack.

“A person who uses his state employment to financially enrich a company — and then goes to work for that company — certainly violates the spirit of the rule,” he said.

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