The man Gov. Bobby Jindal characterizes as one of his best friends left the administration Monday to become a political consultant.
Timmy Teepell, who worked as the governor’s chief of staff for most of his first term, will be a partner in OnMessage.
OnMessage is a Washington, D.C., area consulting firm whose clients include Jindal, the National Rifle Association and the Republican Governors Association.
Teepell, 36, will continue to work in Baton Rouge. He said he will focus on races for governor and Congress.
“We’re not saying goodbye to Timmy. He’ll continue to be involved,” Jindal said during a news conference at the Governor’s Mansion.
Often dressed in blue jeans and holding a cup for his chewing tobacco juice, Teepell was part of the governor’s inner circle of advisers. He often could be found in either the Louisiana House or Senate chambers during legislative sessions.
Teepell was on Jindal’s congressional staff, managed his 2007 race for governor and then became chief of staff.
On election night Saturday, the governor told supporters that after his wife, Supriya, Teepell is his best friend.
Teepell’s departure comes as Jindal assembles his staff for a second term as governor. At least one other member of the administration also is leaving.
“I’m sure there will be a number of personnel changes,” Jindal said.
Teepell declined to comment Monday on whether his new job will entail helping with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Jindal earlier threw his support to Perry.
Teepell officially left the Jindal administration earlier this year to work on the governor’s re-election campaign.
Jindal won a second term Saturday with 66 percent of the vote.
The governor’s 37-year-old executive counsel, Stephen Waguespack, stepped in as chief of staff. He will keep the job permanently.
Jindal’s press secretary, Kyle Plotkin, said Waguespack will make $167,000 a year.
Also leaving the Jindal administration is Melissa Sellers, the governor’s communications director.
Sellers, 29, is leaving Dec. 1 to study women’s ministry at the Dallas Theological Seminary. She will first make a trip to Haiti.
“It’s kind of hard to get mad at somebody when they’re leaving you for God,” Jindal joked.
Replacing Sellers will be Plotkin, also 29.
Plotkin said he will make $90,000 a year in his new job.
Jindal said he plans to individually interview his cabinet secretaries as he prepares for a second term. He will be sworn in Jan. 9.
“We haven’t started those conversations, but we will this week,” he said.
Jindal said he will announce “sooner rather than later” his preferences for Senate president and House speaker.
The focus in the next four years, Jindal said, will be on kindergarten-12th grade education as well as economic development and job creation.
The governor did not provide specifics about what he would propose.