Gov. Bobby Jindal is increasing the size of his top-level communications staff.

The governor’s press secretary, Kyle Plotkin, is succeeding Melissa Sellers as communications director. Sellers is leaving the Jindal administration Dec. 1 to study for the religious women’s ministry.

Replacing Plotkin as press secretary will be Frank Collins, who now works as deputy press secretary. Plotkin said Collins’ annual salary will increase from $46,400 to $65,000.

A new communications position is being created for Aaron Baer, who worked as the governor’s campaign press secretary. Baer will be deputy communications secretary making $72,000 a year.

Plotkin said the size of the governor’s overall staff will not increase because there was a vacant position in the Governor’s Office.

During his 2007 campaign, Jindal said vacancies that state government does not fill should be eliminated with the associated salaries returned to the state treasury.

Plotkin said the vacancy has not been in existence long enough for the governor’s pledge to apply.

Tucker leaves future run possibility open

House Speaker Jim Tucker said he’s not discounting the possibility of another run for elective office after losing his recent race for secretary of state.

“We’ll see what opens up in the future, given it was a close race,” said Tucker, R-Terrytown.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler edged out Tucker by 8,446 votes out of 890,786 votes cast statewide Oct. 22.

For now, Tucker said, “we move on.”

After he leaves the House in January, Tucker said, he’ll return full time to his business interests.

“I’ll make a lot more money,” Tucker said.

Dardenne gets funds from former sheriff

One of Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s last-minute contributions came from the Jiff Hingle Campaign Fund.

The campaign fund is that of Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle who resigned earlier this month after being implicated by federal prosecutors in an alleged bribery scheme. It has been reported that Hingle cooperated in the investigation.

The $5,000 check from Hingle’s campaign fund arrived Oct. 21 — the day before the Oct. 22 election in which Dardenne faced Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

The record of the contribution became public last week on a regular campaign finance report filed by the Dardenne campaign.

“He had given me money in the past,” Dardenne said. “He obviously is a pretty strong opponent to Nungesser.”

Dardenne also said the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association endorsed his candidacy.

Jindal: Relationship not reason for hiring

Gov. Bobby Jindal took time during his victory speech Oct. 22 to thank his staff and to dispel rumors.

Included in the accolades was his campaign manager, Matt Parker, who is related by marriage to the governor’s former chief of staff, Timmy Teepell.

“No, we didn’t hire him because he was Timmy’s brother-in-law,” Jindal said.

Parker is a former executive director of the state Republican Party.

Meanwhile, another Teepell connection — brother, Taylor — has been a salaried employee of the state Republican Party during this election season. Taylor pulled down $2,712 every two weeks beginning in July.

Jindal: Advocate gets blame for vote drop

Gov. Bobby Jindal had a ready answer Monday for why he failed to capture more of the vote in East Baton Rouge Parish as he won re-election Oct. 22.

Jindal drew 51 percent of the vote in his home parish, slightly down from the 54 percent he got in 2007.

“I blame The Advocate, absolutely,” he said.

Insurance agent calls for new leadership

Insurance agent Gene Guffey, who unsuccessfully ran for the Legislature in 2005, is critical of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s choice for state Senate president.

Jindal tapped state Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego. Until last year, Alario was a Democrat. He is the longest-serving member in the Legislature.

“It’s time for the old politicians to step aside and allow new, fresh leadership to come forward,” Guffey said.

Guffey is a member of the Republican State Central Committee.

LSU’s law center makes best value list

The LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center was ranked sixth nationally in the “Best Value Law Schools” by preLaw, a National Jurist publication. 

The 2011 rankings move the Law Center up 12 spots from last year’s ranking.

According to the magazine, the goal of the list is to identify law schools across the country that offer a quality legal education at an affordable price. The magazine considers bar passage rates, employment placement, tuition and average student debt.

Realtors association backs amendment

The Louisiana REALTORS® announced support of proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1 on the Nov. 19 runoff ballot.

The Louisiana REALTORS®, a member-based trade association established to assist its members in the business of real estate, commissioned a study in 2010 on real estate transfer taxes and their potential impact in Louisiana. One of the study’s findings was that a statewide 1 percent real estate transfer tax would have resulted in 5,556 fewer Louisiana home purchases (using 2008 annual average home prices), according to a press release from the Baton Rouge-headquartered group.

If approved by voters, Constitutional Amendment No. 1 would prevent the state and any parish, municipality or political subdivision from imposing any new tax on the sale or transfer of homes and property, the release stated.

Economist featured Press Club speaker

Economist Loren Scott is scheduled to be the guest speaker for Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Scott is to discuss his study, “The Energy Sector: Still a Giant Economic Engine for the Louisiana Economy.”

The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association commissioned Scott to update his study, which looks at the energy sector’s economic impact on Louisiana.

The Press Club meets at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St. in downtown Baton Rouge. Lunch is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and members of the news media are allowed to ask questions.

Schedler to address Rotary Club meeting

Secretary of State Tom Schedler is scheduled to be the guest speaker for Tuesday’s noon meeting of the Baton Rouge Capital City Rotary Club.

The meeting is at Boutin’s Restaurant on Bluebonnet.

Rally set to protest income distribution

The Capital City Council of MoveOn.org in coordination with Occupy Baton Rouge plans to stage a rally and speak-out at noon Saturday at the downtown branch of Chase bank, 451 Florida St.

A news release from the combined groups says they hope draw attention to government policies that allow the top 1 percent of U.S. income earners to use their resources to influence and intimidate political processes.

Information on the local event can be found at http://civic. moveon.org/event/makewallstpayaction/123166.

Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact email address is mballard@the advocate.com.