Around the Capitol / On the Move
Sen. Sylvia Garcia, the Democratic nominee to replace retiring Rep. Gene Green, has announced she will resign her state Senate seat on January 2, 2019.
Reps. Ana Hernandez and Carol Alvarado have announced they are running in the election to replace Sen. Sylvia Garcia.
Former State and US Rep. Pete Gallego finished among the top two vote getters in the special election to replace former Sen. Carlos Uresti earlier this summer. Gov. Greg Abbott has set the run-off for September 18th.
Jacob Cottingham replaced Scott Daigle as COS to Rep. Donna Howard. Jacob was previously Rep. Howard’s Legislative Director.
Drew Graham was named Sen. Charles Schwertner’s COS earlier this summer to replace Tom Holloway, who left to join the Cross Oak Group. Graham was the Deputy Committee Director of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee previously.
Hunter Hughes, former COS to Rep. Sarah Davis, has a new position with Bills Up Now.
Ed Martin, spokesperson for the Texas State Teachers Association, has officially retired from TSTA earlier this summer.
Anne Allensworth has moved from Sen. Jane Nelson’s Senate office as Legislative Director to the Senate Finance Committee staff.
Anna Barnett, formerly Sen. Brian Birdwell‘s Legislative Director become the new COS with the departure of Ben Stratmann (see below)
Chris Noonan, policy analyst for Sen. Larry Taylor, has left that position to join the Senate Natural Resources Committee staff. Quorum Report
Louri O’Leary, after a brief retirement from the Texas Secretary of State’s office is now the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of Central Texas Catholic Charities.
David Guenthner, who served in various positions at the Texas Public Policy Foundation since 2007, has taken a position as the Senior Strategist for State Affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Lansing Michigan.
Former Rep. Mike Villarreal is the director of the newly formed Institute of Urban Education at the University of Texas San Antonio. In addition, Villarreal will join the UTSA faculty of the Department of Education Leadership and Policy as an assistant professor.
Shelton Green, most recently with the Speaker’s Office, has moved to the Legislative Budget Board as the Manager for Articles VII and VIII, Business and Economic Development and Regulatory.
Heather Fleming, also with the Speaker’s Office until earlier this year, has moved to the Governor’s office and is doing policy and budget work for a number of Health and Human Services agencies.
Rep. Dan Huberty’s Legislative Director, Molly Spratt, is leaving that office and will go to work for Sen. Joan Huffman.
Former Grimes County Judge Ben Leman won the special election to replace former Rep. Leighton Schubert in May and took office earlier this summer.
Ana Yanez Correa, former Director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, has recently moved back from DC where she was with the Public Welfare Foundation to take a position with former Sen. and current Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. She will be the Director of Community Engagement.
Former Capitol Bureau Chief of the Texas State Network, Robert Wood, has started as the Community Engagement Content Manager at Goodwill Central Texas.
Gerardo Interiano, formerly Google’s head of External Affairs has switched positions and is now head of Local Market Staffing for Google.
Tabatha Vasquez has left Rep. John Wray‘s office to take the position of Legislative Director for Sen. Brian Birdwell. The Quorum Report
Stephen Tatum, most recently with the Texas Commission on Evironmental Quality as Deputy Commissioner has joined the law firm of Cantey Hanger as a Partner. The Quorum Report
Lauren Hadley, most recently with Rep. Donna Howard‘s office, has left to attend law school at Texas A&M.
Ashley Mann is moving from Rep. Linda Koop‘s office where she was the Legislative Director to the House Appropriations Committee Staff. She will be replacing Malika Te, who is moving to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and will do governmental relations for the agency.
Former Democratic consultant Jason Stanford has landed as Senior VP of Global Communications at H+K Strategies after having worked for Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
Jeff Quilici, who’s worked with lobbyist Jack Erskine for the last four years, is leaving Austin for DC to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsusch. The Quorum Report
Former Texas PUC Executive Director Brian Lloyd will go to work for Sempra, the new owner of Oncor. The Quorum Report
Adrienne Evans is leaving Sen. Brandon Creighton’s office to work in Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office. The Quorum Report
Rep. Andy Murr’s COS, Regan Ellmer is leaving that position to do government relations for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The Quorum Report
Justin Coleman has moved from Government Relations Manager at the Texas Veterans Commission to become the Senior Legislative Liaison for the Comptroller of Public Accounts. The Quorum Report
Lobby / Association News
Chris Sanchez, most recently former Rep. Larry Gonzales‘ COS has started his own lobby firm, Apex Public Affairs.
Dr. Kevin Brown, former superintendent of Alamo Heights ISD, is the new executive director of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) as of July 1, replacing long-time executive director Johnny Veselka.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick‘s Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs policy advisor, Aaon Peña, has taken a new position at the General Land Office as a grant coordinator for the GLO’s Disaster Recovery Team. The Quorum Report
Former Gov. Rick Perry advisor and candidate for US Congressional District 27, Bech Bruun, has landed a contract as a consultant for the Port of Corpus Christi to work on water issues.
Ben Melson, most recently with Rep. Kevin Roberts, has left the Capitol and has taken a position with the Greater Houston Partnership as Manager of Public Policy, working on education policy.
Sara Marie Kinney has been named a state strategist in Austin for Majority Strategies, the Florida-based political consulting firm. Kinney most recently served as deputy press secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy. Before that, she was a political associate at Blakemore & Associates in Houston.
Texas Tribune’s The Blast
Kaitlyn Murphy, former Senior Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association, is now with the Greater Houston Partnership as a Manager of Public Policy, working on health care issues.
Ben Stratmann, former COS to Sen. Brian Birdwell joined Longbow Partners, a government relations and business advisory firm. Stratmann had been with Birdwell for six years and before that was with a number of Republican officeholders.
Former HHSC Executive Commissioner Chris Traylor has a new position with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. According to the CMS news release, Traylor joins the office of the Administrator and will be the Deputy Administrator for Strategic Initiatives.
Former legislative director for Senator Robert Nichols, JD Hale has left that position and is the director of government affairs for the Texas Association of Builders. The Quorum Report
BGR Group, a DC-based lobbying and strategic communications firm, recently hired Jerry Strickland, Gov. Greg Abbott’s head of the Texas Office of State Federal Relations, to head its newly created Texas office.
Jessica Boston has departed the Texas Medical Association to take a position as Director of Policy and Advocacy at Deeds Not Words, an organization created by former Sen. Wendy Davis.
Former Rep. Larry Gonzales has been hired by Husch Blackwell Strategies as a Senior Advisor.
The Texas Association of Business has hired former corporate attorney and government affairs executive, James Hines, as the new senior vice president of advocacy and in-house general counsel.
The Texas Association of Business has also announced the hiring of former Texas Workforce Chairman, Andres Alcantar, as its Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Annie’s List has named Royce Brooks as its new Texas Executive Director. Brooks has worked in the campaigns of both former Sen. Wendy Davis and former Rep. and current Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner.
Tom Holloway, longtime COS to Sen. Charles Schwertner, has joined the Cross Oak Group, a public affairs firm founded by former legislative staffer Jim Dow and former Rep. Mark Homer.
The Austin-based lobby firm Texas Star Alliance has added two principals: Janis Carter and Kerrick Henny. Carter comes to Texas Star Alliance from Winstead, the Dallas-based corporate law firm where she led its state consulting practice for more than 15 years. Henny’s most recent gig was AT&T’s senior vice president for external affairs in Texas. Texas Tribune’s The Blast
Mia Hutchens has left the Texas Star Alliance to take the position of Manager of Advocacy at the Texas Association of Business.
Raise Your Hand Texas announced recently it has hired Bob Popinski as Policy Director. Popinski previously worked as an associate with Moak, Casey & Associates.
Former legislative staffer Doug Lewin, President of Stoic Energy, has been named the new Texas State Director for the Energy Foundation.
Chris Furlow has been named the new President and CEO of the Texas Bankers Association. Furlow succeeds Eric Sandberg who held the position for nine years.
Annie Spilman has been promoted to Texas state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Spilman’s previous position was state legislative director. Texas Tribune’s The Blast
Mike White has retired from the Texas Construction Association, where he was a lobbyist. Texas Tribune’s The Blast
Luis Figueroa, most recently the General Counsel for Sen. Jose Rodriguez, has left to become the legislative and policy director for the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
Ramiro Canales, Assistant Executive Director of Government Relations for the Texas Association of School Administrators, has recently left the organization.
Allison Castle has been named the Senior Director of Communications at the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. She has worked in the Capitol for a number of statewide officeholders and at the Texas Department of Insurance.
Kaleb McLaurin will be the new Executive Director of Government and Public Affairs for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He replaces Jason Skaggs who will become the Executive Vice President and CEO. The Quorum Report
Ryan Skrobarczyk, most recently with Rep. Kyle Kacal’s office is leaving to become the Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs at the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association. The Quorum Report
Bill Grusendorf is retiring from the Texas Rural Education Association and Michael Lee will replace him as Executive Director. The Quorum Report
Justin Williamson has been promoted to Director of Public Affairs at the Texas Retailers Association. He previously served as Director of Marketing and Communications. Jim Sheer, former VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs has moved to McGuire Woods. The Quorum Report
Ender Reed has joined Harris County’s Office of Legislative Relations. He previously worked with the Texas Association of Counties on legislative affairs.
The Quorum Report
The Texas Association of Counties has hired Susan Redford as its new Executive Director. Redford was an Ector County Judge. The Quorum Report
SREC member and former legislative staffer Fernando Trevino has joined Lyft as Community Affairs Manager for the southeastern US. The Quorum Report
Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group, announced it’s hired activist Rachel Malone as its Texas director. Malone most recently worked for the Texas GOP, serving as its operations director until last month.
Texas Tribune’s the Blast
Lauren Willis, Danner Bethel and Adam Goldman have started Ironclad Partners, a government affairs and communications firm. Willis was the former director of communications for Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Bethel was COO of H-K Strategies and Goldman was former principal and founder of Windmill Consulting. Texas Tribune’s The Blast
State Agency News
Correction: In the May edition I reported former Sen. Tommy Williams was the Acting Commissioner at HHSC, replacing Charles Smith who retired. Williams is not the Acting Commissioner, just filling in until the Governor appoints a new Commissioner.
Kara Crawford, most recently the Chief of Staff at the Health and Human Services Commission has left to become the Associate Vice President for the Office of Governmental Relations for the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
The Texas Real Estate Commission and Texas Appraiser Licensing Certification Board have named Tony Slagle as its new Deputy Director. The Quorum Report
Gov. Greg Abbott has named Houston attorney Jeff Oldham as his new general counsel. He will be replacing Andrew Oldham who has been confirmed as a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Quorum Report
Gov. Greg Abbott has named Ruth Ruggero Hughs Chair of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Hughs has served as TWC Commissioner Representing Employers on the three-member Commission since being appointed by the Governor in July 2015.
Peggy Fikac, respected veteran reporter, and most recently the Austin Bureau Chief of the San Antonio Express News, has taken a position with the Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Brittany Eck has a new position at the General Land Office, Communications Director for Community Development and Revitalization. She previously served as the Press Secretary for the GLO.
Former Sen. and current Chancellor of Texas Tech University, Robert Duncan, has announced he is resigning as Chancellor.
Milton Rister, former ED of the Railroad Commission and the Legislative Council has been named to the Board of Directors for the Pedernales Electric Cooperative.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Cassie Brown as the new Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation, replacing Ryan Brannan. Brannan resigned in May to start his own firm.
Former legislative staffer and ERCOT government affairs director, Shelly Botkin, was appointed to the Public Utility Commission by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this summer.
Former Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Greg Abbott, Luke Bellsnyder, has been named Deputy Commissioner at the Texas Department of Insurance.
Chuck Courtney, former Associate Director at the Annette Strauss Institute at UT Austin, retired June 1.
Former House Republican Caucus Policy Director, Jessica Magee, is now at the HHSC Office Of Inspector General as a government affairs staffer.
The State Preservation Board has officially appointed Margaret Koch as the new director of the Bullock State History Museum, after serving in the role of interim director. The Quorum Report
Brian Sweany, formerly of Texas Monthly, is now Communications Director at the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. The Quorum Report
Former Supreme Court Clerk Zina Bash has been named Senior Counsel for Attorney General Ken Paxton. The Quorum Report.
Rudy Sandoval, has taken a position as Director, Government and Community Relations at Central Texas College. He had served since 2003 as a Governmental Relations Liaison at the Texas Workforce Commission. The Quorum Report
Karina Erickson has been named press secretary for Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Erickson and most recently served as communications director to U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston. Texas Tribune’s The Blast
Jeff Jeter, former COS to the late Sen. Chris Harris has been promoted to Vice President of Government Affairs at UT Arlington.
Jordan Overturf, formerly campaign manager and COS to Rep. Hugh Shine, has taken a position as a speechwriter at the General Land Office. Texas Tribune’s The Blast
Macy Hurwitz, previously with Speaker Joe Straus‘ communications’ office has taken a similar position with the State Archives. The Quorum Report
Congratulations to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath and his wife, Dr. Laura Vondra, who recently had twins.
Congratulations to Rep. Ramon Romero on his marriage in June in Zacetecas, Mexico. Rep. Richard Raymond served as a groomsman in the wedding.
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation has created the Randy Chapman Fellowship program for legal aid lawyers. Chapman recently retired from the Texas Legal Services Center. The Quorum Report
The Texas State Agency Business Administrators’ Association has named the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Executive Director, Wayne Roberts, as its Administrator of the Year. The Quorum Report
Congratulations to Corbin Casteel and Nicole Neal on the adoption of a son, Louvens, from Haiti, and a baby due in February 2019.
Congratulations to Dale Laine and Amy Blakely on their recent wedding in Telluride, CO earlier this summer.
Congratulations to Kaitlyn Murphy who is expecting a child due in October and has started a new position in Houston (see above).
Former Sen. and US Rep. Jim Turner was named the winner of the 2018 Ralph W. Steen Memorial East Texan of the Year Award by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments.
Austin McCarty, Legislative Director for Rep. John Raney, and currently serving in the Naval Reserves, has been selected for promotion to AWF1.
Congratulations to Rep. Hugh Shine and his wife Debbie on the recent marriage of their son David.
Congratulations to CPS lobbyist Kari Torres Meyer on her recent marriage to Craig Meyer.
Congratulations to Bob Garrett on his promotion from Interim Austin Bureau Chief to Austin Bureau Chief.
Senate Sergeant At Arms Rick DeLeon was awarded the 2018 Legislative Staff Achievement Award by the Legislative Security and Services Association. The Quorum Report
Former Rep. Domingo Garcia was recently elected LULAC National President at the organization’s annual convention. The Quorum Report
Rep. Armando Martinez was elected in June to the Board of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
In Our Thoughts
Vatra Solomon, former Executive Assistant to former Sen. and Gov. Bill Ratliff, passed away in May. Before joining Sen. Ratliff she was a teacher and worked for the Texas State Teachers Association.
Former Sen. and lobbyist Babe Schwartz passed away earlier this month at the age of 92. He represented the Galveston area in both the House and the Senate during the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Former Sen. Murray Watson Jr., former state senator and Texas State Technical Institute pioneer, died recently at 86. “Watson, a Waco-area native, was a prominent Democratic figure in the Texas Legislature from 1957 to 1973, serving first as a representative then state senator.”
Frank Sturzl, longtime executive director of the Texas Municipal League passed away last month. After his tenure with TML, Sturzl joined HillCo Partners where he was affiliated for seven years.
Former Rep. Bill Carter who represented the Ft. Worth area from 1984 to 2003 died earlier this month, at the age of 89.
Former Rep. Delwin Jones who represented the Lubbock area in the legislature off and on from the mid 60s to 2011 passed away in July at the age of 94.
Former Rep. and lobbyist James “Jim” Presnal passed away in late May at the age of 92. He represented Brazos and Grimes Counties from 1948 to 1952.
Former Rep. Bill Finck of San Antonio passed away earlier in July. After his tenure in the legislature, Finck was a presence around the Capitol handing our Finck cigars to legislators and staffers.
A.W. “Woody” Pogue, former Texas Commissioner of Insurance, passed away on July 15, 2018, at the age of 79.
Harry McAdams, most recently a lobbyist with the Texas Star Alliance, passed away earlier this summer. McAdams was a longtime close friend and advisor to former Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe, who appointed him as director of Texas state/federal relations after his early retirement after 26 years on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Travis McClardy’s mother-in-law, Carolyn Kniffen, passed away earlier this summer.
Former Rep. Dan Gattis’ brother, Brent Gattis, passed away on June 17.
Attorney and former Administrative Law Judge Larry Craddock passed away in July. Craddock also worked for both Gov. Bill Clements and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock.
Joe Lung, who worked in the Capitol Gift Shop for the last ten years, and was a welcoming presence for visitors to the Capitol, died earlier this month.
Condolences to the family of former Rep. Toby Goodman whose mother passed away on June 8th.
Condolences to the family and friends of Mindy Ellmer and Regan Ellmer on the passing of their mother, Lynda Brown, earlier this month. Lynda Brown was the manager of the House Business Office at one time in her varied career.
Work on Capitol Complex gets going, 10 months after groundbreaking
from the Austin American Statesman
State leaders made speeches and lined up to scoop ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt last September during the official groundbreaking for a decades-in-the-making project to build new government office buildings, parking garages and a pedestrian-friendly green space along Congress Avenue north of the Capitol
Dates of Interest:
General election: November 6, 2018
First Day to file bills for the 86th Legislature: November 12, 2018
First Day of the 86th Legislative Session: January 8, 2019.