Prominent Iowa Republicans Will Keep State Jobs After Gigs as Foreign Agents

Nov 7, 2017

Kim and Connie Schmett will retain their positions in the Reynolds administration for now, while a state ethics board looks into their work as foreign agents for Saudi Arabia.  

But Gov. Kim Reynolds says the legislature should act to ensure that state officials don’t work as foreign agents in the future.  

The Schmetts, who are long-time GOP activists from Clive, own a consulting firm called Schmett & Associates. The Saudis paid the couple over $100,000 for their work on legislation to allow lawsuits against Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks.   

Legally we don't know if they've done anything wrong. -Gov. Kim Reynolds

Connie Schmett serves on the Health Facilities Council.   She did not report the Saudi income to the state in her financial disclosure form.   Kim Schmett heads the Employment Appeal Board.

Governor Reynolds says state law appears to allow state employees to work as foreign agents, what she calls a "loophole."

"I think it makes sense that if you’re going to serve the state as a public official, that it would be a conflict of interest to work in that capacity," Reynolds said at her weekly statehouse news conference.   

Reynolds says she lacks the authority to dismiss the couple from their jobs.   They were appointed to a statutorily-defined term by former Gov. Terry Branstad.

"Legally, we don't know if they’ve done anything wrong, and that’s why we've asked a third party to review that and get back to us," Reynolds said. 

The Schmetts recently hosted a fundraiser for the governor.   Reynolds said she was not aware of their work for Saudia Arabia at the time.

Kim Schmett hosts the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, which invites presidential candidates and other conservative leaders for breakfast meetings.   He ran for Congress in 2008.