ST. PAUL -- Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty re-enlisted Jeff Olson to be his commissioner of veterans affairs and he chose Leslie Kupchella, who served as Norm Coleman's spokeswoman during his campaign for Senate, as his own spokeswoman.
With the selections Monday, Pawlenty continues to round out his cabinet with faces well known around the Capitol.
Olson was appointed to lead the agency by Gov. Jesse Ventura in January 2001 and before that had served as deputy commissioner.
He joins two other Ventura appointees who have found top posts in Pawlenty's cabinet.
Pawlenty's top pick for the Department of Administration is Brian Lamb, who oversaw the state's Driver and Vehicle Services program under Ventura. And Gene Hugoson will continue as commissioner of agriculture.
Olson said he hopes his small agency will grow in size and mission by combining far-flung veterans programs under the agency. It has a two-year budget of $12.5 million and employs about 31 people.
Pawlenty has stressed the need for consolidation and change of state agencies, but he said Veterans Affairs was never targeted for elimination.
"It's enormously important in terms of the services it provides and the message that it sends," Pawlenty said of the department.
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