Missoulian State Bureau Chiefs of staff want new experience

HELENA - In a shakeup of the Washington, D.C., offices of Montana's two Republican congressmen, U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns' communications director is swapping jobs with Rep. Rick Hill's chief of staff.

The change, which takes effect April 10, means that Burns' press secretary Matt Raymond, a former television capital reporter in Helena, will become the chief of staff for Hill, who is not seeking re-election. In return, Hill's chief of staff, Larry Akey, moves over to become communications director.

Raymond, who has worked in Burns' press office for more than five years, had been interested in gaining additional experience for some time but has wanted to remain close to his office and to Montana.

Hill, meanwhile, is not seeking re-election because of complications from eye surgery. Akey saw an opportunity to stay involved in Montana issues by working with Burns, who is running for re-election, and a chance to build on his communications background.

Burns called the move "a perfect fit."

"I can't think of two offices that have ever worked more closely with each other in the Montana congressional delegation on behalf of Montanans," Burns said, "and this will allow us to keep two strong, longtime staffers on board and working hard for our side."

Hill said the move will give Burns and him a chance to keep Akey and Raymond close by but allow them to take on new responsibilities and challenges for Montanans.

"Both of them have skills that will add to our offices and our ability to do work for Montana, and I think both of our offices will become stronger through (the) ability to share in this way," Hill said.

Akey, who managed Hill's two congressional campaigns, has been his chief of staff since last year. He founded two public relations groups in Montana, Target Communications and Strategic Communications Group.

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