Iowans 'frustrated' with subsidizing Apple, which lobbied against women's sports bill, journalist says

Iowa state officials told Fox News that the recent "women's sports law" reflects local values, which differ from those of Silicon Valley

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Apple raked in more than $200 million in subsidies from Iowa taxpayers, only for the tech giant to lobby against a bill that represents the values of most of the state's residents, according to the editor of a conservative news outlet.

Apple received the financial incentives in exchange for building a data center in the state that would create 50 permanent jobs. It then lobbied against a newly signed bill that will limit female high school sports to biological girls.

"Iowans across the state are frustrated with the fact that they are subsidizing such a huge industry, such a huge company that advocates against their beliefs," Jacob Hall, editor of the Iowa Standard, told Fox News. "When you're bringing a company that's going to advocate against the interests of the state's residents and then you're incentivizing them to come here to begin with, I think that's where the rub is for a lot of Iowans."

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed the bill into law earlier this month after it passed the state Senate 31 to 17 and the House 55 to 39.

Jacob Hall, Editor of The Iowa Standard

Jacob Hall, Editor of The Iowa Standard

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Iowa has also provided incentives for Google, Microsoft and Facebook owner Meta to build data centers in the state. All three signed a public letter in Februray condemning the women's sports bill. 

"We call for public leaders to abandon or oppose efforts to enact this type of discriminatory legislation and ensure fairness for all Americans," said the letter, which Apple and over 150 companies also signed. 

A May 2021 Gallup poll reported that 62% of U.S. adults said they believed trans athletes should play on teams that matched their birth gender, while 34% said athletes should play on teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Three lobbyists registered Apple against the bill, according to state lobbying disclosures. Meanwhile, the tech giant's data center project has fallen years behind schedule.

Iowa State Senator Zach Nunn

Iowa State Senator Zach Nunn

Apple framed the law as part of a "social agenda" rather than fairness for women's sports, state Sen. Zach Nunn, a Republican, told Fox News.

"That becomes a concerning issue when we have a major industry who attempts to come in and force public policy based on an agenda they may have in a boardroom out of state," he said. 

Nunn and state Rep. Skyler Wheeler told Fox News that the bill was introduced in response to advocacy from parents and student athletes. Protesters recently descended on the NCAA swimming championship over Lia Thomas, a transgender woman who competed with the University of Pennsylvania's female team and ultimately won the 500-meter freestyle.

"This is a fairness issue for women's sports," Nunn told Fox News.

Wheeler, also a Republican, said: "Iowans love common sense. They love science. This bill obviously fits both."

And Hall added: "Apple clearly does not represent the values of most Iowans."

He told Fox News that this is a cautionary tale against providing incentives for Silicon Valley companies to "pollute the waters of Iowa values." Hall also said that Apple’s wealth and subsidies gave the Silicon Valley company an unfair advantage to influence public policy and receive government benefits. 

"The average Iowan is not going to get a tax credit like the one Apple got, and they certainly aren't going to have highly paid lobbyists up at the Capitol advocating for their behalf, advocating for their beliefs, advocating for their values," Hall said. 

Hall, Wheeler and Nunn expressed concern that Apple does not represent the values of Iowans.

"A corporate culture can’t be what defines a community’s culture," Nunn told Fox News. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Apple CEO Tim Cook (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Hall said: "Female sports are only for biological females, I know that's a radical idea, maybe, to Big Tech CEOs and the folks out in the Silicon Valley, but here in Iowa, that's called common sense. Gender identity and gender fluidity don't work well on the farm."

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Wheeler said that it was "ironic" that Apple had only hired lobbyists for the legislation regarding girl's sports, given other Iowa bills related to consumer privacy, ransomware and tax cuts in the state legislature.

"They’re nowhere to be found on any of those," Wheeler said. "But when it comes to just saying, ‘Hey, only biological girls get to play girls sports,’ apparently that was Apple's biggest thing."

Neither Apple nor the governor's office responded to requests for comment.