Jindal shuffling top staff, chief of staff exits - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Jindal shuffling top staff, chief of staff exits

Stephen Waguespack (right), testifying before a legislative committee in this 2008 photo (File/AP Photo) Stephen Waguespack (right), testifying before a legislative committee in this 2008 photo (File/AP Photo)
Paul Rainwater, the governor's new chief of staff (photo from gov.louisiana.gov) Paul Rainwater, the governor's new chief of staff (photo from gov.louisiana.gov)
MELINDA DESLATTE
Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal's chief of staff, Stephen Waguespack, is leaving after five years with the administration, a resignation that prompted a reshuffling Monday of several key posts.

Jindal chose from within his inner circle to restructure.

Paul Rainwater, who has worked as the governor's top budget adviser as the commissioner of administration, will become chief of staff.

Jindal's deputy chief of staff, Kristy Nichols, will take over as commissioner of administration, managing the day-to-day operations of state government and becoming the public face of the governor's budget negotiations with lawmakers.

The Republican governor's office said the changes take effect Oct. 15.

Waguespack is a lawyer and said he is leaving to work in the private sector and spend more time with his family. He said he doesn't have a new job lined up yet but plans to remain in Baton Rouge.

"I just felt like it was time for me to focus more on my kids," he said. "I've been privileged to work here. It was just one of the moments for me to pursue a different path in life and I'm excited about it."

Waguespack has three young sons, including one who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Jindal praised Waguespack's work, and the exiting chief of staff called Jindal a "dear friend."

"From the beginning of our work to build a better Louisiana, Stephen has been by my side as a trusted adviser and a friend. He helped shepherd through monumental policy reforms that will have a lasting and positive impact on our state," Jindal said in a statement.

Waguespack had been chief of staff since July 2011. He's held several posts for the Jindal administration since the governor took office in 2008, including executive counsel and deputy chief of staff, and he worked on the governor's 2007 campaign.

To fill his chief of staff job, Jindal stayed inside his close circle of advisers.

Rainwater has previously worked as Jindal's deputy chief of staff and as executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state's former hurricane response agency. Before that, he worked for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu as legislative director and chief of operations.

Rainwater will keep his $204,000 salary when he becomes chief of staff, while Nichols will be paid $167,000, the amount that has been paid to Waguespack and about $4,000 more than her current salary, according to Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin.

Before her job as deputy chief of staff, Nichols was Jindal's secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services. She's also worked at the Department of Health and Hospitals during two former governors' administrations.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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