New Dunleavy consultant has ties to national conservative figures Pence, Bachmann

Vice President Mike Pence waves to a crowd of spectators on board Naval Air Station Oceana, Nov. 2, 2019. (Public domain photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark Thomas Mahmod/U.S. Navy)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has hired a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence as a new communications consultant.

Mary Vought, who worked for Pence when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was hired in November under a $4,000-a-month contract, according to Brett Huber, a top Dunleavy advisor.

Vought’s company, Vought Strategies, is based outside of Washington, D.C., but she comes with Alaska credentials: She grew up in the state and once had Sarah Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, as her substitute teacher at Colony Middle School in Palmer.

Now, Vought appears to be well-connected in Washington’s conservative Republican circles.

Vought’s husband, Russ Vought, is acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Mary Vought, in addition to working for Pence, was a spokesperson for Michele Bachmann, the former GOP representative from Minnesota who once ran for president.

And Vought also works as executive director of Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that sometimes targets Republican incumbents, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that it deems not conservative enough. In that capacity, Vought — along with dozens of other national right-wing figures — signed a public memo in November from the Conservative Action Project that endorsed Dunleavy for being “fiscally responsible.”

Vought is helping Dunleavy’s administration with its in-state communications strategy; she’s also helping to connect the governor’s office with national outlets, according to Huber.

“Her role is to help both make our communications stronger within Alaska, and projecting the governor’s ‘open for business’ message through the national media in an effort to create better relationships and more jobs for our state,” Huber said.

Vought could not be reached for comment.

Dunleavy’s press office has seen significant turnover in recent months, as he fights back against a recall campaign against him.

Dunleavy’s first communications director, Mary Ann Pruitt, no longer works for the governor, according to Huber. Dunleavy’s original press secretary, Matt Shuckerow, is gone too.

Meanwhile, the governor hired a former conservative talk radio host, Dave Stieren, as a community liaison late last year.

 

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