Nixon selects three more top advisers

Saturday, January 10, 2009 | 3:29 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Incoming Gov. Jay Nixon picked three more nominees for his top-level advisers, including a campaign aide and a former colleague from the state Senate.

Nixon chose Missouri National Guard Col. Stephen L. Danner, who is a lawyer and former state lawmaker, as the state's adjutant general. Although not technically part of the Cabinet, the adjutant general oversees the state's Army and Air National Guard units.

Jon Hagler, who advised Nixon's campaign on agriculture issues, is Nixon's nominee to lead the Department of Agriculture. Nixon also selected Kansas City attorney Lawrence Rebman to head the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

All of the appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Danner inherits a National Guard facing controversy over alleged discrimination by top leaders against blacks and women. Two federal complaints have been filed, and 13 black Guard members said in a letter to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that Maj. Gen. King Sidwell — the incumbent adjutant general — has "fostered a climate of institutional discrimination."

Sidwell has denied any discrimination and said the federal complaints concern promotions that were made based on "management needs" and had nothing to do with race or gender.

Danner, 55, of Hollister, enlisted in the military in 1972 as a combat engineer and joined the judge advocate corps in 1981. He was the command judge advocate with the 35th Area Support Group in Balad, Iraq, from 2005 to 2007.

Danner also has been heavily involved in Missouri politics.

Danner, then living in Kirksville, and Nixon, who lived in Hillsboro, were both elected to the Missouri Senate in 1990. Danner was the Democratic nominee in 2000 for the U.S. House seat that had been held by his mother, Pat Danner, but he lost the general election to Republican Sam Graves.

He also served as legal counsel to the Missouri House speaker and as top aide in the lieutenant governor's office under Mel Carnahan.

State campaign finance records show that Danner has donated several thousand dollars to Democratic candidates, including $3,000 to Nixon's campaign since 2006.

Hagler, 41, of St. James, worked with Nixon's transition office to select the Agriculture Department's next director.

Hagler was the chief of staff for Democratic House speaker Jim Kreider in the early 2000s and twice ran unsuccessfully for a Rolla-area seat in the state House.

Rebman, 41, worked for Nixon in the attorney general's office before leaving to start his own private practice. He was a member of Laborers Local 663 for 19 years and worked for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

Rebman's legal practice includes a focus on employment, workers' compensation and disability cases. His clients have included police associations in Kansas City and Leavenworth, Kan., and a professors association at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.


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