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Mark Esper confirmed as U.S. Army Secretary

Nov. 17, 2017: Mark T. Esper was confirmed as the Secretary of the U.S. Army by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Esper, Virginia Republican, was confirmed by an 89-6 vote. Esper has been the Vice President for Government Relations at Raytheon since 2010. Esper was previously the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy at the U.S. Department Defense in former President George W. Bush's administration. Esper, a senior-level lobbyist for defense company Raytheon and a former Army infantry officer, was nominated in July, 2017, and he was the third choice to be the top civilian leader of the largest branch of the military after two previous nominees dropped out due to financial concerns and controversy. The confirmation fills a key Defense Department position as about 70 percent of lower-level positions at the Defense Department that require U.S. Senate confirmation remain unfilled as of this month, November, 2017.

Esper graduated from Laurel Highlands High School in 1982. He received his BS in engineering from the United States Military Academy in 1986. Esper was a Dean's List student at West Point and a recipient of the Douglas MacArthur Award for Leadership. He received a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in 1995 and a PhD from George Washington University in 2008. Esper worked as an Infantry Officer with the 101st Airborne Division and deployed with the "Screaming Eagles" for the 1990-91 Gulf War. His battalion was part of the famous "left hook" that led to the defeat of the Iraqi Army. For his actions, Esper was awarded a Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, and various service medals.

He later led an Airborne Rifle Company in Europe and worked as an Army Fellow at the Pentagon. Esper was on active duty for more than ten years before he moved to the National Guard and Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Esper was the chief of staff at the Heritage Foundation, a private, non-government conservative political organization, from 1996 to 1998. From 1998 to 2002, he was a Senior Professional Staffer for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. He was also a Senior Policy Adviser and a Legislative Director for U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel. Esper also worked as the Policy Director for the U.S. House Armed Services Committee in 2001 and 2002. From 2002 to 2004, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy, where he was responsible for a broad range of nonproliferation, arms control, and international security issues. He was the Director for National Security Affairs for the U.S. Senate under Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist from 2004 to 2006. Esper also previously worked as the Executive Vice President of the Aerospace Industries Association in 2006 and 2007.

Aubrey Layne appointed as Virginia Finance Secretary

  
Nov. 17, 2017: Aubrey Layne has been appointed as the Virginia Finance Secretary in the administration of Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, Northam announced at a press conference at the State Capitol yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. Layne is currently the Virginia Secretary of Transportation. As Finance Secretary, Layne succeeds longtime Secretary of Finance Ric Brown, who is planning to retire after holding the position for the last three Virginia Governors and after working in state government since 1971. Layne, a Virginia Beach, Va., businessman has been the Virginia Transportation Secretary for the duration of outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe's term. "You certainly can't replace Ric Brown," Layne said. "But you can certainly carry on his good work and hope to expand on that." Northam is scheduled to take office as the Virginia Governor in early 2018.

David Rippe to resign as Hastings, Neb., Economic Development Corporation Executive Director

  
Nov. 17, 2017: David Rippe has been appointed as the Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) by Gov. Pete Ricketts, effective on Dec. 18, 2017, Ricketts announced on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Rippe, of Hastings, Neb., is currently the Executive Director for the Hastings Economic Development Corporation (HEDC). Rippe was previously an Economic Development Consultant in business recruitment for DED, where he worked on project oversight and business recruitment functions for the department. From 2005 to 2008, he was a Fiscal Analyst at the Legislative Fiscal Office for the Nebraska state government. Rippe received a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a master of business administration degree in strategic management and finance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is currently on the board of directors for the Nebraska Economic Developers Association, the Hastings Area Manufacturers Association, and the Hastings Corporation, among others. In his new post, Rippe will be paid $142,000 per year.

Ric Brown to retire as Virginia Finance Secretary after 46 years working in Virginia state government

  
Nov. 17, 2017: Aubrey Layne has been appointed as the Virginia Finance Secretary in the administration of Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, Northam announced at a press conference at the State Capitol yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. Layne is currently the Virginia Secretary of Transportation. As Finance Secretary, Layne succeeds longtime Secretary of Finance Ric Brown, who is planning to retire after holding the position for the last three Virginia Governors and after working in state government since 1971. Layne, a Virginia Beach, Va., businessman has been the Virginia Transportation Secretary for the duration of outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe's term. "You certainly can't replace Ric Brown," Layne said. "But you can certainly carry on his good work and hope to expand on that." Northam is scheduled to take office as the Virginia Governor in early 2018.

David Zatezalo confirmed as Labor Department Assistant Secretary, Mine Safety and Health

  
Nov. 17, 2017: David G. Zatezalo was confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Labor by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Zatezalo, of West Virginia, was confirmed by the Senate by 52-46 vote. Zatezalo retired in 2014 as the chairman of Rhino Resources, a coal company. The company has been cited for repeated safety violations. As the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health, Zatezalo will be responsible for reducing workplace accidents and promoting safe and healthy workplaces for miners.

Bobby Christine confirmed as U.S. Attorney for Georgia Southern District

  
Nov. 17, 2017: Bobby L. Christine was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia for a four-year term by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Christine was appointed in 2012 as the State Judge Advocate for the Georgia National Guard. While also working as a litigator at his private firm, Christine and Evans, he has also worked as a part-time Judge of the Magistrate Court for Columbia County since his appointment in 2005. Previously, he worked for a decade as a Prosecutor at the District Attorney’s Office in Augusta, Ga., and as the Chief of the Columbia County division. Christine has also worked in the U.S. military. He joined the National Guard at seventeen, and he received his commission as an officer at age nineteen. He has been a Combat Engineer Platoon Leader and a Company Executive Officer, a Judge Advocate General (JAG) Trial Counsel, Brigade Judge Advocate, and Staff Judge Advocate. Christine received medals for his work in Iraq as a Judge Advocate General and as a Combat Engineer with the 265th Engineer Group. The Southern District of Georgia includes forty-three of Georgia’s 159 counties in the southeastern region of the state.

David Freed confirmed as U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania Middle District

  
Nov. 17, 2017: David J. Freed was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for a four-year term by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Freed, Pennsylvania Republican, is currently the Pennsylvania District Attorney for Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He was nominated for the U.S. Attorney post in September, 2017. Freed was the Republican nominee for the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General in the 2012 election. In 2013 and 204, Freed was the President of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. Freed received his law degree from the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University. After he graduated from law school, Freed worked at a private practice, focusing on insurance defense litigation. In 1997, he was appointed as the Deputy Prosecutor of York County. In 1998, he was named an Assistant District Attorney for Cumberland County. In 2001, he was promoted to First Assistant District Attorney. In 2006, he was appointed District Attorney after incumbent Skip Ebert, Jr., was appointed to the position of Chief Deputy State Attorney General. Freed was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011 without any opposition.