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Nixon's choice for economic development stands down

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 2, 2012 - Gov. Jay Nixon's embattled choice to lead the Department of Economic Development is stepping aside amid the Missouri Senate's decision not to vote on his nomination.

Jason Hall, former executive director of the Missouri Technology Corp. and a former attorney with Bryan Cave, was selected to replace outgoing director David Kerr. The agency has recently faced questions over its handling of the Mamtek controversy.

But Hall's nomination faced a rocky reception, with Republican senators questioning his experience and his tenure at the MTC. The Senate did not vote on his nomination yesterday, just two days before a deadline to act.

Nixon's office announced that Hall would step aside and that Nixon's deputy counsel Chris Pieper would serve as acting director. Pieper served as the Department of Economic Development's general counsel from June 2010 to January 2012.

"With his strong professional background and extensive experience in helping Missouri businesses create jobs, Jason Hall is exactly the type of strong leader Missourians need at our Department of Economic Development," Nixon said in a statement. "This inaction by the Senate will not dissuade me from continuing to work relentlessly with business and community leaders to create jobs and keep our economy moving forward."

The press release said that Hall "will continue to work closely with Gov. Nixon to create jobs and expand Missouri's economy as a senior member of the governor's administration."

Nixon spokesman Sam Murphey said in an email that Hall will serve as the deputy director of the Department of Economic Development.

The release also said Pieper will serve as acting director while Nixon's office conducts a search for a permanent director. Pieper previously served as deputy general counsel for the Department of Natural Resources and as legislative liaison for the Department of Revenue.

Jason Rosenbaum, a freelance journalist in St. Louis, covers state and local government and politics. 

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.