Alex MacLean during Gov. Shumlin's 2012 reelection campaign.
Montpelier's revolving door spun again Thursday as one of Vermont's top lobbying firms announced the hiring of Gov. Peter Shumlin's former campaign manager and deputy chief of staff.
Following the retirement of cofounder Bob Sherman at the end of the year, KSE Partners will pick up Alex MacLean as partner and head of the firm's strategic communications practice. The news was first reported by VTDigger's Anne Galloway.
A Northeast Kingdom native, MacLean served as a Statehouse aide to former House speaker Gaye Symington and Shumlin, then Senate president pro tem, before managing the latter's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. She joined the Shumlin administration in 2011, serving as secretary of civil and military affairs and as deputy chief of staff. After managing the governor's 2012 reelection campaign, MacLean left Team Shumlin to run her own strategic communications business, called ASM Strategies.
"I'm excited to get back to an office setting and to be surrounded by colleagues and the talented folks at KSE," MacLean says. "KSE is the preeminent communications firm in the state, so I'm looking forward to being a part of it."
Says partner Todd Bailey, "Alex is a great hire because she's incredibly talented, incredibly smart. She understands strategy as well as anyone in the state and has the ability to communicate with anyone in the state. When you have those talents, it's an obvious choice of someone to add to the partnership."
MacLean says she'll take her current clients, which include Jay Peak Resort, Anbaric Transmission and Let's Grow Kids, with her to KSE. Since leaving state government, MacLean has done extensive work for Jay's Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative, focusing on investor relations and project management.
Both MacLean and Bailey say she will register as a lobbyist with the secretary of state, but won't spend much time lurking around the Statehouse cafeteria.
"I will not be up at the Statehouse on a regular basis. I'm not going to rule out the possibility that I may walk into the building on occasion, but it's certainly not my focus," she says.
Will MacLean's work for Shumlin give her more influence with and access to the governor's office than most lobbyists?
"You know, we all have personal relationships with the governor and people in the legislature," Bailey says. "When you do this work as long as we have, you develop those relationships."
MacLean says she does not expect to interact frequently with the governor and his staff, "but I won't rule it out if it would serve my clients at some point."
Both MacLean and Bailey resist describing the move as a trip through the revolving door.
"No, the requirement in the [Executive Code of Ethics] is that you be away from state government for one year, and I will have been out of state government for two years," MacLean says. "So, no, I don't think so."