Gov. Mark Dayton's new senior advisor on jobs, Kathy Tunheim, will keep her day job while advising the governor.
Tunheim, founder of Tunheim Partners and president of IPREX Worldwide, is a public relations executive and will spend about a quarter of her time volunteering to serve the governor.
That means she'll spend the other 75 percent of her time doing what she has long done -- leading one the state's premier public relations firms.
During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, PR executive and candidate Tom Horner was caught in a swirl over whether his clients or former clients presented a conflict of interest. Horner, an Independence Party candidate for governor, refused to divulge his client lists and, during the campaign, divorced himself from his firm, Himle-Horner.
Tunheim is taking a different tack.
While Tunheim said she didn't believe there was a conflict between the unpaid position in the Dayton administration and her day job because the firm does communications, not lobbying, but she also said she would freely divulge the firms clients.
"Our agency operates, always has, on an absolute commitment to transparency," she said.
The firm lists some of its major clients on its Web site and provided the Star Tribune with a 2011-2010 client list.
(We will post the full list shortly.) (See below.)
Those clients include some local, regional and state government agencies. The firm has worked for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health. They also include clients that lobby the government, including the Minnesota Twins, Target Corp., Clearway Minnesota and others, although Tunheim does not lobby.
She said her role will be to bring business people together to frame the conversation about jobs and what can create jobs in Minnesota.
"It's about making sure we are getting constructive conversation and get the right people around the tables to make forward progress," she said. "I don't expect that the role that I'm going to be playing is so specifically involved in particular economic development opportunities that I'm going to get into that. I think that's DEED's job."