In a statement issued on Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced new appointments to the Tennessee Governor’s Office, including the appointments of Erin Merrick to succeed Jonathan Skrmetti as chief legal counsel, effective September 1, and Casey Black Sellers to succeed Laine Arnold as director of communications, effective September 2.
The Tennessee Supreme Court announced last week that Skrmetti will assume the role of Tennessee attorney general and reporter, succeeding outgoing Attorney General Herb Slatery, who did not seek re-appointment to the role.
Arnold is leaving the government to lead communications for Governor Lee’s re-election campaign in addition to starting a strategic communications venture for corporations and causes.
“Jonathan is a brilliant legal mind with vast experience at the state and federal levels, and Tennesseans will be well represented by his service as Attorney General,” Lee said in the statement. “Erin is a dedicated public servant who will lead with integrity and bring significant expertise as Chief Legal Counsel, and I appreciate her continued service to Tennessee.”
According to the statement, Erin Merrick currently serves as Lee’s deputy legal counsel, a role she has held since 2019. Previously, Merrick was an assistant attorney general in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, where she practiced state and federal civil litigation before both trial and appellate courts. Merrick earned her bachelor’s degree at American University and holds a master’s degree in economics and Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University.
“Laine’s leadership and insight as Communications Director and Senior Advisor have played an invaluable role in my administration. I commend her work to ensure key priorities and accomplishments were communicated effectively, and Maria and I treasure her friendship,” Lee continued in the statement. “Casey has been an integral member of our team, and I have full confidence that her extensive communications experience will continue to serve Tennesseans well.”
Casey Black Sellers currently serves as Lee’s press secretary. According to Lee’s office, Sellers has deep experience in state and federal political communications, including service with U.S. Representative David Kustoff of Tennessee and former U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Sellers earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Jade Cooper Byers, currently deputy press secretary, will assume key responsibilities as Lee’s press secretary. Byers earned her bachelor’s degree at Belmont University and has served Lee since his successful primary run in 2018.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow Aaron on GETTR, Twitter, Truth Social, and Parler.
Photo “Bill Lee” by Gov. Bill Lee. Background Photo “Tennessee State Capitol” by FaceMePLS. CC BY 2.0.