WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and likely incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today announced several staff changes on his Washington-based team. Should Thune be elected Commerce Committee chairman in January, he will be the first senator in 30 years to hold a third-ranking leadership office or higher, while also holding a chairmanship of an “A” committee.
Brendon Plack, Thune’s deputy chief of staff, has been named staff director of the Senate Republican Conference. Plack will also continue to oversee operations in Thune’s DC-based personal office. Plack, a South Dakota native, has served on Thune’s team in various capacities for the past 10 years, including Thune’s legislative director, policy director for the Senate Republican Conference, and energy analyst at the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
“Brendon is an experienced leader in the United States Senate,” said Thune. “With ties to South Dakota and a deep policy background, I am pleased he will be running my leadership office while continuing to oversee day-to-day operations in my D.C. personal office.”
Ann Marie Hauser has been named deputy staff director of the Senate Republican Conference. Most recently, Hauser handled public affairs strategy for the financial regulatory consulting firm Patomak Global Partners. Prior to that, she served as managing vice president at JDA Frontline; communications director for Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s presidential bid; vice president of corporate communications at JPMorgan Chase; communications director for Senator Mike Johanns (R-N.E.); and director of public affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce and spokesperson at the U.S. Department of Treasury in the George W. Bush administration.
“I’m pleased to welcome Ann Marie to my team,” said Thune. “Ann Marie brings a valuable perspective as someone who has served in senior positions in government, campaigns, and the private sector. Her wealth of experience will help strengthen member services provided by the Senate Republican Conference and ensure my offices coordinate seamlessly as Republicans in the Senate work advance pro-growth policies.”
AshLee Strong, Thune’s national communications director, has been promoted to senior communications director. She will continue to serve as Thune’s chief spokesperson and will coordinate Thune’s national message in his leadership office and across his committee assignments. Previously, Strong served as press secretary for Thune; press secretary for Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.); communications aide for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; and an aide at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in the George W. Bush administration.
“AshLee is one of my most trusted advisers and played a critical role in crafting a communications strategy that helped Republicans in the Senate make our case to the American people,” said Thune. “As she takes on this expanded role, I will continue to rely on her insights as we articulate Senate Republicans’ policies and vision in the next Congress.”
Frederick Hill has been named Thune’s communications director for the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Hill most recently served as deputy staff director for communications to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-C.A.) on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hill has worked for Issa for the past 13 years.
“Frederick’s many years of communications experience on one of the most active committees in the House of Representatives will make him a valuable member of my Commerce team. I look forward to utilizing Frederick’s communications ability as I roll out my agenda for the Commerce Committee in the 114th Congress.”
In addition, Rachel Millard will continue to serve as Thune’s communications director for state press. Millard, a native of Chamberlain, South Dakota, and graduate of Creighton University, has served on Thune’s personal staff for over five years and previously served as press secretary for Thune, internal communications adviser at the Senate Republican Conference, and legislative correspondent for Thune.
“Serving the people of South Dakota is and always will be my primary focus, and Rachel’s role will only grow in importance in the new Congress as our legislative goals and accomplishments are communicated to all South Dakotans,” said Thune.