The daughter of U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, started Monday as the city’s new deputy director of communications, with a salary of $45,000.
Laura Byrne, 24, will help George Talbot, director of communications and external affairs, with media relations, as well as help manage the city’s social media accounts, Talbot said Thursday morning.
Byrne takes the job after a stint as communications director with Mobile Baykeeper, where she was tasked with similar responsibilities, Talbot said.
“She did an outstanding job with Baykeeper,” Talbot said. “We’re thrilled to have her on board to help enhance our communications with the public.”During his campaign last year, Laura Byrne’s position with Mobile Baykeeper became a point of contention between her father and Dean Young, his Republican opponent in a runoff election. According to reports, the issue arose from Baykeeper’s support of a study to turn the Mobile-Tensaw Delta into a national park. But it was an issue both candidates publicly opposed.
Seth Morrow, the congressman’s communications director, said the congressman, nor anyone in his office played a role in his daughter being hired by the city. He said Laura Byrne volunteered on the mayor’s campaign and the city actually reached out to her.
Morrow added that Laura Byrne was loyal to Baykeeper and her father did not pressure her to leave that position.
The position could be considered new, Talbot said, but he compared it to the role Adam Buck played under the Sam Jones administration. Buck served as public relations coordinator and made $41,175. According to a previous Lagniappe story, he left for a job with the City of Pensacola.
Because it was by appointment of Mayor Sandy Stimpson, posting of the position was not required, Talbot said. The City Council will also not be required to confirm the appointment.
Talbot said the city received other resumes for the position, but Byrne was the only candidate who came in to interview with staff. He said Byrne’s father did not contact the city to help his daughter get the job. He added that her parents had no influence on the decision. Laura Byrne’s mother Rebecca was tapped to become the CEO of the Community Foundation of South Alabama in February.
The Byrnes have three other adult children: Colin, Patrick and Kathleen.
The story was updated to correct Byrne’s previous job title.