Major changes afoot in Schwarzenegger administration

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's inner circle is in the midst of significant changes that include the likely hiring of state Controller Steve Westly's chief of staff, a Democrat, and the departure of Cabinet Secretary Fred Aguiar, a Republican, according to several Capitol sources familiar with the governor's executive staff.

Also departing is Richard Costigan, Schwarzenegger's legislative affairs secretary, and Margita Thompson, his press secretary. Both are Republicans. Sunne McPeak, secretary of Business Transportation and Housing, earlier announced her departure.

Ross LaJeunesse, Westly's chief of staff, is likely to take a position on the governor's Capitol staff, although his title and function were uncertain. Before working for Westly, LaJeunesse (pronounced lah'-zhuh-ness) served as chief of staff to Susan Kennedy, then a member of the California Public Utilities Commission, to which she had been appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis. Kennedy, a Democrat and ranking executive under Davis, now serves as Schwarzenegger's chief of staff.

LaJeunesse served during the 1990s in Washington, D.C., on U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy's staff, and as an aide to U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, the former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate.

He was recruited to the governor's staff by Susan Kennedy, her top aide Daniel Zingale and by the governor's wife, Maria Shriver. All are Democrats.

Few of the arrivals and departures have been announced publicly–McPeak's was an exception–but they have been described by a number of sources familiar with the administration. Thompson is expected to be replaced by Matt David, who served as a press aide on Schwarzenegger's successful reelection campaign.

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