Parnell appoints new legislative liason

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010

Gov. Sean Parnell has appointed Heather Brakes of Juneau as his legislative director, following the resignation last month of Jerry Gallagher, said spokesperson Sharon Leighow.

Brakes had been deputy legislative director, and was previously an aide to Sen. Gene Therriault of North Pole, who left the Legislature last year to take a position in the Parnell Administration.

Gallagher had also served as Parnell's communications director, but Leighow said the administration is not currently recruiting for a new communications director. Leighow, who remains as press secretary, had previously reported to Gallagher.

Gallagher's departure means additional turnover in two of the top administration positions, which have seen high turnover since the election of former Gov. Sarah Palin and Parnell in 2006. Brakes will be the fourth legislative director in that time, following John Bitney, Russ Kelly and Gallagher.

Previous full-time communication directors have been Meg Stapleton, Rosanne Hughes, Bill McAllister, David Murrow and Gallagher.

Gallagher began working for Palin in January of 2009 in a temporary position which later became permanent.

The Alaska Legislature adjourned April 19 of this year, and Gallagher's resignation was effective April 23.

Leighow said Gallagher would be retiring and would be return to Colorado, where his wife lives and where he was living when hired by Palin.

He had been a former deputy director of the state's Division of Oil and Gas and then worked for ConocoPhillips Co., including as a lobbyist, before moving to Colorado.

Gallagher's resignation letter said he is leaving to "spend more time with family and friends."

Brakes had earlier been named as co-legislative director in 2007 along with Kelly, but withdrew from that position and remained as top aide to Therriault, then the leader of the Senate Republican Minority.

After Therriault joined Parnell as an advisor on natural gas policy, Brakes became deputy legislative director. As legislative director, one of Brakes' first duties will be working with the governor on budget vetoes.

Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.

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