Palin makes legislative appointments

Two people to replace former director Bitney

Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gov. Sarah Palin has appointed two people to replace former Legislative Director John Bitney, who now works for the Alaska Legislature.

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The duties will be divided into two positions now, one in each house of the Legislature.

Russ Kelly, serving as a special staff assistant to the governor, will become the liaison to the Alaska Senate. Heather Brakes, formerly chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Gene Therriault, will be liaison to the House.

Kelly, former deputy chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, served as liaison to the departments of Transportation and Public Facilities, Public Safety, Corrections, Law, and others.

Brakes has worked for the Legislature for 11 years, including time as an aide to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee.

Frank Bailey has been named director of boards and commissions. There are 122 state boards and commissions to which Palin has direct appointment authority.

Beth Leschper has been appointed deputy communications director. She previously was a program manager for the Tax Division of the Department of Revenue. She is the wife of Juneau Empire Advertising Director Lee Leschper.

Joining Palin as a special staff assistant is Randy Ruaro, who will replace Kelly in his liaison duties to transportation and other departments. He was chief of staff to Rep. Kyle Johansen, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

• Contact Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or

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