Peltola announces major staff changes that ditch the bipartisan appeal she led with earlier

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Rep. Mary Peltola announced the departure of three key members of her official Washington, D.C. staff, including Senior Policy Advisor Larry Persily, Interim Communications Director Josh Wilson, and her Interim Director of Scheduling and Operations Paula Conru.

Although when she started her career in Congress much was made about how she hired Republicans (Persily is not among those), she is getting a staff of almost-all Democrats. Alex Ortiz of Ketchikan, her chief of staff who served as Congressman Don Young’s final chief of staff, may be the final remaining non-Democrat in her office.

Persily is nonpartisan and a longtime Alaskan, while Josh Wilson worked for Republicans in Congress before taking a job with Otter Public Relations, which led to him earning Peltola as a client shortly after her election. Conru, a longtime Alaskan, was Congressman Young’s scheduler and had worked for Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

When Peltola first took office, her public relations team heralded how bipartisan she is.

“When Ortiz and Wilson spoke with Roll Call last week (Conru declined to be interviewed), Peltola had more registered Republicans and independents (four) working for her than Democrats (three). ‘Which is kind of incredible,’ Ortiz said. ‘And really speaks to a lot of the amazing qualities that she has,'” Roll Call reported in September.

“Both Ortiz and Wilson described themselves as GOPers who decided to work specifically for Mary Peltola, not Republican reprobates,” the publication reported. Read that story here.

“I think part of it is an Alaska thing and part of it is a practical thing, because I want to achieve for Alaska,” Ortiz told the reporter. “Ultimately, that is far more important to me than party.”

“She said, ‘When I get to DC, I want to be bipartisan.’ That’s a typical — like, everybody says that,” Wilson told the reporter. “But she’s probably the first [Democratic] representative who, when she arrived here, the first thing she did was hire three Republicans.”

Peltola has since hired many D.C. insiders from the left side of the political aisle, including:

Elizabeth Othmer is the new legislative director and counsel. Othmer served as Legislative Counsel for New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury, a Democrat. Othmer was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Simone Auger is a new legislative assistant covering natural resources issues. Auger previously worked as legislative assistant for Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, a Democrat, for whom she was the 2020 Mark O. Hatfield Congressional Fellow for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.

Logan Basner, who was previously a special assistant to Peltola in Anchorage, has been promoted to a legislative assistant for transportation, infrastructure, and labor issues for the D.C. office. Basner was born and raised in Palmer and was chief of staff to Alaska State Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Democrat, and a legislative aide to Rep. Zack Fields, a Democrat. He worked for Alaska Federation of Natives and was Zulkosky’s campaign manager.

Emily Larsen, who was previously a staff assistant for Peltola, has been promoted to a legislative correspondent. Born and raised in Maine, she recently graduated from American University, where she studied justice and law with a concentration in terrorism and security. She interned for Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent; and for Maine Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat.

Lauren Noland was hired away from Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office to be a legislative correspondent. Noland previously worked for the late Congressman Don Young. She was raised in Chugiak and is a U.S. Army veteran.

Bre Klayum joins the office as scheduler and office manager. Klayum previously served as deputy scheduler for Sen. Dan Sullivan. She was born and raised in Eagle River and graduated from Montana State University with bachelor’s degrees in history and political science. 

“Ensuring a smooth and seamless transition for Alaskans was my top priority while I served out the remainder of Congressman Don Young’s term,” said Peltola. “Larry, Josh, and Paula were instrumental in helping me establish an office in D.C. and have worked tirelessly for Alaskans over the last several months. All three have a long record of public service and I’m extremely grateful for the time they spent in my office. I wish them all the best as they enter the next chapters of their lives.”

43 COMMENTS

  1. A politician said one thing to get elected and then does the exact opposite in office?

    Impossible!

    Anyone genuinely surprised should lose voting rights for three election cycles.

    • What are you talking about? She won with Squish Begich plant to split the vote on the conservative side. Does she plan on actually going to DC and doing the job she wanted?

      • You really need to look at the timing again.

        Begich, a conservative, applied for the Seat a year prior to the election, he was planning on running against Young in the Primary.

        Attention-hungry Palin jumped in at literally the last minute to register after Young had passed to try to revive her flagging political career and get her “Q Score” up for future business opportunities. Unfortunately Trump endorsed her using his sophisticated “I’ve heard of her and she says nice things about me” political calculus and made the situation worse.

        _Sarah_ split the vote, running hard against Begich but actively buddying up to Peltola because she was so ignorant of how ranked choice worked that she thought Peltola’s second choices, which she was trying to earn, would be counted in the first round. She then, unlike Begich, refused to push “Rank the Red” so that her second votes would go Begich in the second round until the very last second, and then only half-heartedly.

        If she had stayed out, Begich wins in a walk with Republicans and Independents versus Peltola’s hard Left supporters.

    • Yup.
      This squarely lands at the feet of the 2 time, 3rd place Loser – Begich and his sycophants.

      Begich supporters couldn’t even “rank the red”.
      RINO’s are worse than democrats – they front as “conservatives” but are really weak willed, soft, unprincipled, middle of the road cowards.

  2. Not much of a change when you get rid of a few RINOS and replace them with a few Dems! I’m waiting to see if Peltola can buck the political & financial might of the Native CDQ cartel & follow up on her campaign rhetoric to end the outrageous trawler bycatch issues in Alaska!

  3. I’m relieved to hear something, anything about her. DC is such a dangerous place for newbies. Lisa would, of course, let her sink or swim. Peltola is not my cup of tea but I sincerely worry about her safety in the DC introductory jading processes. I was concerned for Lisa as well (still am). I’m glad Kelly is safe and sound and busy carefully leading her kids right now. Democrats think the jading processes are “fun”. I think it’s ghastly.

  4. And do newly elected Republicans routinely hire Democrats to be on the their staff? Please. This was considered news-worthy by MRAK?

  5. Re: “She said, ‘When I get to DC, I want to be bipartisan.’

    Off to a GREAT start as a typical lying politician…..

  6. I’m not surprised; it’s to be expected. The voters got what they paid for. Well, an entity – or entities – paid for it.

  7. If everyone who voted for Nick Begich had listed Sarah Palin second, and everyone who voted for Sarah Palin had listed Nick Begich second, then we would not have Mary Peltola as Alaska’s representative in Congress. They were both flawed, polarizing candidates and they spent too much time sniping at each other rather than educating the Republican electorate that failure to rank both of them would give us Peltola by default. Hopefully, the Alaska Republican Party can figure this out over the next election cycle.

    • Palin jumped in at literally the last minute. If she had just kept her attention-seeking narcissism in check Begich would have walked away with Republican and Independent voters.

      What, exactly, were Begich’s political policy”flaws?” And, no, mere assertions that he is a “RINO” or “Trump doesn’t like him” are not evidence.

        • “He admittedly” is correct. It takes character to admit that you voted for a failed official (who BTW presented himself as a centrist), when you could just lie or say nothing.
          Peltola stood no chance against Begich until the attention-seeking Palin stepped in and grabbed votes. Ultimately the blame lies with Murkowski, Kendall, and a handful of other electioneers. People make mistakes; my first vote was for Jimmy Carter.

  8. Is anyone surprised the radical leftist who stole office doesn’t want to work across the isle with the more reasonable party? I can’t wait for the new republican house to depose of this despot.

  9. Democrats never retain Republicans for help, only to get elected. Sarah Palin, in her quest for more admiration, fowled up the entire election . These Palin supporters are as wacko as LGBTQ and climate fanatics. You can’t teach them rationality. They are entrenched.

  10. Why is this not surprising to me? It’s not. But it is very very disappointing. I at least wanted to give her a chance. But that chance is gone. Now we see her true stripes. Not to be trusted to be truthful. LIAR!!! I really don’t like anybody lying to me. I want to say hate, but that is way too harsh of a word. Lie to me once and you’re going to be a liar for the rest of your life to me. Mary Peltola, you are a liar!

  11. Quite a reach, even for MRAK. Peltola’s chief of staff is an experienced R staffer, which any sane person would interpret as evidence she intends to work across the isle. Two other R staffers resigned their positions (they were not ditched), and one of these positions remains open. Her senior adviser is an independent that has experience working with Rs and Ds.

    How many R legislators have any Ds working for them?

  12. So tell me, do the Republicans who have no Democrats of their staffs intend to work across the isle? And if you care about how many Republicans a Democrat has on their staff, why don’t you care about Republicans not having Dems on their staff? Could it be because you are looking for an excuse, any excuse to attack Peltola?

  13. Another Democrat politician in Alaska pretending to be a bi-partisan unifier in order to get elected…. What a surprise. I’m betting her true colors take full bloom as she is anointed the newest member of “the squad” – right alongside AOC, Rashida Talib, Ilhan Omar, etc.

  14. It doesn’t matter who is in there, a D or R, they are all corrupt or will soon be. It is a swamp and they are leading us into a very dark place. None can bd truste!

  15. I keep getting crap mail from Peltola. I sent this idiot woman an FU letter last fall. Yet, she still writes me. Is her intelligence quotient really that low? She’s as illegitimate as Joe Biden. Democrats have no shame whatsoever.

  16. Having her as our Representative is the same as having ‘no’ Representative in D.C. From my perspective she is useless as teats on a boar hog.

  17. So Peltola runs as a centrist to mine our vast independent voter population, then once elected OFF come the sheep’s clothing and the dem wolf emerges. NP ruled with an iron fist. McCarthy will stand for conservative values but be much more inclusive. Peltola’s 13+ votes for Jeffries confirm our suspicions as to who she is.

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