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Ex-Riley aide gets state job amid hiring freeze

MONTGOMERY – Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh has been hired as a special assistant to the state finance director, an $80,000-a-year post that was taken on the same day Gov. Bob Riley ordered a hiring freeze in state government, the Montgomery Advertiser reported Wednesday.

The hiring freeze was announced Monday, but Riley said in mid-November it was being considered because of the economic downturn and slumping state revenues.

Finance Department spokeswoman Gina Smith said the process to hire Cavanaugh started three or four weeks ago. Riley press secretary Todd Stacy said the administration made it clear to all agencies that any potential employee in the pipeline for hiring shouldn’t be canceled by the hiring freeze order.

Cavanaugh was Riley’s deputy chief of staff before leaving to serve as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party from 2005 to 2007. She returned as senior adviser to Riley before leaving earlier this year to run for president of the Public Service Commission. She lost that race to Democrat Lucy Baxley on Nov. 4.

As assistant to State Finance Director Jim Main, Cavanaugh will represent him at meetings of the approximately 40 boards and commissions he serves on because of his position.

She also will assist Main with other projects in the department.

Smith said she did not know if the position was newly created, but she said the number of positions in the department had not been increased.

Riley said the hiring freeze would reduce the number of state employees — through attrition and not layoffs — by 3,000 over the next year.