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Hubbell takes on humbled development department


Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell was appointed interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development in the wake of a funding scandal that has forced several firings and resignations, including those of former IDED Director Michael Tramontina and his deputy, Vince Lintz.

Tramontina resigned Sept. 18 after giving Gov. Chet Culver the results of an audit of a tax incentive program to lure filmmakers to the state. The audit found that the program was operating without oversight and that money was used for expenses unrelated to movie making, including the purchase of luxury vehicles.

Culver announced Hubbell’s appointment in a news release that made no mention of the problems in the Iowa Film Office, where the governor has ordered an additional inquiry into the program and has frozen delivery of tax incentives. Culver also named Joe O’Hern, deputy director at the Iowa Finance Authority, as interim deputy director at IDED, focusing on the department’s flood recovery efforts.

Hubbell’s record of public service includes chairing the Iowa Power Fund Board, where he continues to serve on the board as the IDED representative. In addition, Hubbell was appointed co-chair of the Iowa Disaster Collaborative, which raised millions of dollars on behalf of those affected by last year’s natural disasters.

During O’Hern’s tenure at the Iowa Finance Authority, he was appointed to the Governor’s Rebuild Iowa Task Force to help coordinate efforts in rebuilding communities after the natural disasters of 2008.

The tax incentive program is called the Film, Television and Video Promotion Program. It provides income tax credit certificates of up to 50 percent for the production of films in the state. The credits can be used against personal income or sold to any taxpayer.

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