DES MOINES --- Osceola attorney Megan Tooker has been hired as the new executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board Friday.

Tooker succeeds Charlie Smithson, who had been with the agency since 1998. She will start the $82,500-a-year position Jan. 1.

Tooker, 34, an associate with the Reynoldson, Van Werden and Reynoldson law firm in Osceola, was the unanimous choice of the six-member board, which voted to offer her the job during a telephonic meeting Wednesday, according to Chairman James Albert.

Albert, who knew Tooker when she attended Drake University Law School, described her as "exceptional ... outstanding ... brilliant."

"We're convinced she will be a superlative executive director," Albert said. "Her legal skills are outstanding and her management skills as well.

"She's a spectacular appointment, one in which the public will have confidence."

The 2006 highest honors graduate of Drake law school clerked for former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Michael Streit. Two years ago, she joined Reynoldson, Van Werden and Reynoldson, which was founded by former Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice W. Ward Reynoldson.

Tooker succeeds Smithson, the agency's executive director since 2001. On Wednesday, he began his duties as the chief clerk of the Iowa House. He replaces Mark Brandsgard.

Smithson, who joined the agency as its legal counsel, was regarded as an expert on the state's campaign finance laws. He also teaches about the subject at Drake University Law School, where Albert is a faculty member.

When Smithson succeeded Kay Williams, the agency's first director, in 2001, the positions of executive counsel and counsel were combined.

By statute, the board is independent of the legislature and governor. It recruits its director rather than advertise the position, Albert said. He recruited Smithson as the agency's legal counsel in 1998. Albert and Vice Chairwoman Pat Harper interviewed Tooker, and the board had two meetings on the appointment.

Two people applied for the job, which has a salary range is $63,690 to $97,460.

The agency administers campaign laws applying to candidates for state and local office and state and local ballot issues, administers state ethics laws and enters into agreements with local governmental units to administer their ethics codes and oversees enforcement of the state laws on gifts, conflicts of interest, post-state employment and use of state resources.

It also gives advice on and enforces state lobbying laws and board's rules on executive branch lobbying.


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