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Post National Guard scandal, McHugh Pierre accepts Senate Majority job

By Rhonda McBride 10:57 PM January 5, 2015
ANCHORAGE –

Last September, Gov. Sean Parnell asked McHugh Pierre to resign from his job as Deputy Commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs.

But this week Pierre was offered a four-month contract working for the Senate Republican Majority as a communications strategist.

Pierre’s resignation followed that of another prominent military official who Parnell also asked to step down, Alaska National Guard Adjutant Gen. Thomas Katkus.

Pierre, who has since formed his own company, Quantum Communications, said he’s happy to move on but believes he did nothing wrong.

“To be asked to resign, that’s part of the election cycle,” said Pierre. “When bad news continues to plague a candidate, often times, people need to leave to try alleviate that bad news. I believed that was what happened in my case.”

“Every experience you have in life allows you to grow and mature and always have a fresh perspective on new events,” said Pierre, who believes the new job will be a good fit.

“I’ve worked in public relations for ten years in state government,” said Pierre. “It’s not something that’s new. In 2008, I was the spokesperson for the Alaska Republican Party.”

Pierre has also worked as a radio and television broadcaster.

Sen. Kevin Meyer, an Anchorage Republican and the incoming Senate President, says Pierre will work in his office.

He said the decision to hire Pierre occurred when a staffer in the Senate Majority’s media office left a fulltime position. Meyer said Pierre would only work during the legislative session to help Republican senators get their message out to the public.

Meyer said the current budget crisis makes it important to have someone with Pierre’s experience on staff.

As for Pierre’s resignation in the wake of the Alaska Guard scandal, Meyer said there’s nothing to indicate he did anything wrong.

“The governor wanted somebody to leave,” said Meyer. “He was an at-will employee and that’s one of the risks you take.”

The Walker administration recently announced plans to hire a special investigator to look into how sexual assault cases and other claims of corruption and wrongdoing have been handled.

Pierre said he doubts he would be drawn into the investigation, because he didn’t have authority over many employees. But he says he would be happy to offer his insights into what happened, if it would benefit the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs and the Alaska National Guard.

“I’m happy to talk to them — anybody, a legislative committee.  I’m very open about it,” said Pierre.

Carolyn Kuckertz, the Senate Majority Press Secretary, said Pierre’s salary will not be paid for with state funds.

The hiring won’t be official until Pierre signs the contract. He is traveling out of state but has verbally accepted the job.

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