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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
When Gov. Kim Reynolds in January named Paul Trombino director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, she gave him a $40,000 retention bonus for his “continued dedication and willingness to serve the people of Iowa.”
Within weeks, she replaced that bonus with a larger one, $46,176.40 on Feb. 9, bringing Trombino’s pay for fiscal 2021 to $158,246.40. The state-mandated salary cap for the Homeland Security director is $112,070, according to the Feb. 9 letter.
Trombino, an engineer by training, started as Iowa Department of Transportation director from 2011 to 2016 under Gov. Terry Branstad, Reynolds’ predecessor.
In January 2019, Reynolds brought Trombino back to state government as her chief operations officer. In this position, Trombino coordinated, among other things, the state’s $50 million contract with Workday, a California software company. Lawmakers criticized the deal for sidestepping traditional competitive bidding.
As the COVID-19 hit Iowa in March 2020, Trombino also was Reynolds’s point person with the no-bid $26 million Test Iowa Initiative, and officials from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the State Hygienic Laboratory had to route questions and requests about the deal through Trombino.
When The Gazette was researching an article in November about why the 14-day COVID-19 positivity rates reported by the state didn’t make sense — even to biostatisticians — the Governor’s Office had Trombino answer questions. He also signed a contract agreeing to pay Domo, a Utah company involved in the Test Iowa Initiative, $230,000 more for contact tracing software that initially caused delays for county public health departments.
As Homeland Security director, a position that does not require Iowa Senate confirmation, Trombino will among other duties preside over federal funding to the state because of disaster declarations in 37 counties after the Aug. 10, 2020, derecho.
Debi Durham, who became director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority in 2010, received a $50,000 bonus on Jan. 7, bringing her total annual pay to $204,300. The bonus allows Reynolds to compensate Durham above the state-mandated cap of $154,300 for Durham’s position. Durham has received recurring annual bonuses since she took the job, The Gazette reported in 2014.
Durham told the Sioux City Journal in March 2019 she had a private sector job lined up and was planning to leave state government when Reynolds offered her the Finance Authority job on top of her other duties.
"My thing was not as a fixer to come in and clean up. Mine is to grow it, which for me is the most exciting part — which is why I stayed," Durham told the Journal.
Durham will make $204,300 this year, according to the Jan. 7 bonus letter.
To get their full bonuses, Durham and Trombino each must stay for 12 months from the dates of their letters.
The Gazette received copies of the letters from the state 42 days after requesting records about bonuses granted to state directors under Iowa’s open records law.