A new job for Rod Roberts and other Branstad appointment news

Governor-elect Terry Branstad announced today that former State Representative Rod Roberts will head the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals in the next administration. Roberts gave up his seat after six five terms in the Iowa House to run for governor. He won about 9 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. I believe his candidacy helped Branstad by attracting social conservatives who might otherwise have consolidated behind Bob Vander Plaats.

Branstad and other Republicans have criticized Dean Lerner, the head of the inspections and appeals department in Chet Culver’s administration. They claim state inspectors have been too tough on businesses, particularly nursing home owners. The nursing home industry already gets most of what it wants from state legislators, and will cheer Roberts’ appointment. I am skeptical that Branstad plans to improve on his dismal record of nursing home regulation.

UPDATE: Clark Kauffman reported in the Des Moines Register on December 9,

Roberts, 53, told The Des Moines Register Wednesday that he didn’t apply for the job. Instead, he said Branstad contacted him shortly after the election and offered him the job. […]

Roberts said his 10 years of experience as a lawmaker will help him lead the agency, although he acknowledged he faces a steep learning curve because he has no staff management or regulatory experience.

Roberts also said he would not have any conflicts of interests – despite ties that he and his wife have to facilities that are inspected and regulated by the employees he will supervise.

Roberts has served on the boards that govern the New Hope Village care center in Carroll and its charitable foundation.

His wife, Patricia Roberts, is director of development for the foundation that provides financial support for St. Anthony Regional Hospital and Nursing Home in Carroll.

Kathie Obradovich argues that Roberts should “pledge to have no part in any regulation of operations where he has personal ties and relationships. Staff members should handle it.”

Also on December 8, Branstad named Teresa Wahlert as his choice to head Iowa Workforce Development. She is a past president of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and a member Iowa Business Hall of Fame who informally advised Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign.

Finally, Branstad announced that Courtney Kay-Decker will head the Iowa Department of Revenue. Kay-Decker is a Davenport attorney who was a member of the Iowa State Tax Review Board from 2000 to 2007.

Press releases with background on the three latest Branstad appointees are after the jump. I expect the Iowa Senate to confirm them all.

Meanwhile, outgoing Governor Culver was in Washington recently. Culver told the trade publication North American Windpower that he met with members of Congress to advocate for legislation to promote renewable energy. Presumably some job-hunting was going on as well.

For the near term, Culver will focus on completing the five weeks he has remaining as Iowa governor. After that, he will begin weighing his options. He wants to stay involved with either a wind energy company or a public interest group, adding that he would rather focus his energy on the task at hand rather than dwelling on the November defeat.

Culver chaired the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition and lobbied Congress for a strong renewable electricity standard while the federal climate change bill was being debated. I don’t expect any progress on promoting renewable energy at the federal level, especially now that Republicans will control the House of Representatives. The tenative tax cut deal President Barack Obama struck with Republican leaders includes extending biofuels subsidies but not tax credits for wind or solar power.

Branstad press release of December 8:

(URBANDALE) – Gov.-Elect Terry Branstad today announced that State Rep. Rod Roberts will head the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals in the Branstad/Reynolds Administration.

“Representative Roberts will be a great asset to our administration as we work towards honest, open government,” said Branstad. “He has a unique ability to work with individuals of all backgrounds and political persuasion, and has a great reputation throughout the entire state. This ability will serve him well in this new role as he will deliver a strict, but fair, style in this department.”

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals was formed in 1986 to perform and manage audits, appeals and hearings on matters related to the operation of the executive branch of state government. The department is also tasked with inspecting, licensing and certifying various operations including, but not limited to restaurants, health care providers, hotels, grocery stores and gambling operations.

“I am honored to have been chosen by Governor-Elect Branstad to lead the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals,” said Roberts. “I will work hard to ensure that the health and safety of Iowans is a top priority and to make sure that the citizens have their voice heard through the appeals process.”

Rep. Roberts was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2000, representing the people of Carroll County and portions of Crawford and Sac Counties. He did not seek re-election to the House this year. Roberts is a graduate of Iowa Christian College in Des Moines. He and his wife Trish reside in Carroll and have two children and four grandchildren.

Branstad press release of December 8:

(URBANDALE) – Gov.-Elect Terry Branstad today announced Teresa Wahlert as head of Iowa Workforce Development in the Branstad/Reynolds administration.

“I am excited to welcome Teresa Wahlert to the team,” said Branstad. “Teresa’s experience creating and maintaining jobs in the private sector makes her a pivotal part of my administration as we work toward creating 200,000 new jobs.”

Iowa Workforce Development was formed in 1996 to provide Iowa businesses and employees with a broad organization of services and education.

“In a time when many Iowans are looking for a job, I will ensure that Iowa Workforce Development does everything it can to assist Iowans in finding economic security for Iowans and their families,” said Wahlert. “I am ready to work with our job creators to ensure Iowa’s economy is firing on all cylinders.”

Wahlert, a native of Dubuque, holds a Master’s of Science in Business degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from Creighton University. Wahlert lives in Waukee with her husband, Howard. They have three grown children who also live in central Iowa.

Branstad press release of December 8:

(Urbandale) – Gov.-Elect Terry Branstad today announced that Courtney Kay-Decker will serve as head of the Iowa Department of Revenue.

“Courtney’s leadership and skill set will be extremely valuable as she is tasked with overseeing Iowa’s tax revenues and managing this important department,” said Branstad.

The Department of Revenue is charged with managing the state’s tax collection and being a tax information resource for the taxpayers of Iowa.

Kay-Decker was a member of the Iowa State Tax Review Board from 2000-2007. She served as chair of the board from 2003-2007.

“I am excited to enter into this new role with the Branstad/Reynolds administration,” Kay-Decker said. “Governor Branstad is committed to efficient government and I think that the Department of Revenue can provide essential services while keeping the costs low.”

Kay-Decker is a graduate of Northwestern University and The University of Iowa’s College of Law. She is a Partner at Lane and Waterman Law Firm in Davenport and is the President of the Rivermont Collegiate Board of Trustees. She is also on the board for the Quad Cities Golf Classic Charitable Foundation, which operates the annual John Deere Classic in the Quad Cities.

Kay-Decker and her husband Ed reside in Davenport with their two children.

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