HELENA - Incoming Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock announced Friday the new staff he has hired - and old hands he is keeping - to run the Department of Justice.
Larry Fasbender will stay on as Bullock's chief of staff and deputy director. Fasbender, who will earn $94,321 a year, started working at the agency under Attorney General Joe Mazurek, also a Democrat. He worked under both terms of outgoing Democratic Attorney General Mike McGrath and also served as McGrath's chief of staff.
Chris Tweeten will stay on as the agency's top civil lawyer, making $91,723.
Col. Mike Tooley will head the state Montana State Highway Patrol, replacing Col. Paul Grimstad. Tooley, who started his career with the patrol as a trooper in 1984, will earn $87,588 a year. Tooley is a Helena native with a bachelor's degree in public-safety administration from Grand Canyon University.
Mike Batista will stay on as administrator of the agency's Division of Criminal Investigation. Batista will earn $87,888 a year. Robert "Skip" Culver will stay on as head of Justice's Centralized Services Division, also earning $87,888.
Rick Ask, chief of operations for the Gambling Control Division, will step in temporarily as acting administrator for the division. Ask, who will make $80,000 a year, has a master's degree in public administration from the University of Montana. The division regulates gambling machines in Montana. Ask replaces Gene Huntington, who is retiring.
Brenda Nordlund, an attorney with the department's Motor Vehicle Division, will also assume reins of the agency temporarily. Nordlund will earn $80,000 a year running the division. She has worked for the Justice Department for 16 years.
Kevin O'Brien, a former aide to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, will serve as Bullock's communications officer. O'Brien, who has a degree in political science and history from Illinois State University, will earn $54,000 a year. He comes to Bullock from the Montana Democratic Party, where he served as communications director and spokesman during the 2008 elections.
Anthony Jackson, a Billings native who helped run Bullock's 2008 election, will be the agency's liaison to the Legislature. Jackson will make $48,500 and holds a political-science degree from Montana State University in Bozeman.
Kevin Downs, a Helena native and Carroll College graduate, will work as Bullock's program officer. Downs will earn $48,500 and has worked the last five years with humanitarian organizations in Northern Ireland and Honduras.
Sandy Jacke, a Deer Lodge native, will work as Bullock's executive assistant. A paralegal, Jacke will earn $35,000 a year.
Bullock defeated Republican candidate Tim Fox in a bruising battle to fill the seat vacated by McGrath, who was forbidden by term limits from seeking at third term as attorney general.
Bullock, along with all other statewide elected officials, will be sworn in Monday morning at a Capitol ceremony.