The job search cancelled last Tuesday was for an executive director of Governmental Relations. Schnieders will begin work Nov. 1.

The University of Missouri on Monday chose a close aide to the Missouri Senate’s top Republican to handle staff lobbying duties in Jefferson City a week after announcing that it had cancelled the search for a lobbyist.

Dustin “Dusty” Schnieders, chief of staff to Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard since 2012, will be the director of Governmental Relations and paid $105,000 annually, UM System spokesman Christian Basi said. That is the same salary paid to Marty Oetting, who in May was laid off as director of external relations. Oetting was responsible for day-to-day lobbying during legislative sessions.

The job search cancelled last Tuesday was for an executive director of Governmental Relations. Schnieders will begin work Nov. 1.

The difference is in the duties each position carries, Basi said. Schnieders will handle “much more of the day-to-day operations, tracking bills, watching legislation as it works its way through and setting up appointments,” he said. “He will continue to work with the two consultants. The Executive Director is a strategic, long-term planning, overall bigger picture position.”

Schnieders was one of the names sources gave as an interviewee for the executive director position before the search was cancelled.

Schnieders went to work for Richard in September 2012, during Richard’s first term in the Senate and when Richard had been elected Senate majority leader. Richard became president pro tem of the Senate in 2015 and will leave the office after the 2018 election. As chief of staff, Schnieders was paid $81,375 in 2016.

Prior to working for Richard, Schnieders worked on Sen. Roy Blunt’s 2010 campaign and later became a constituent caseworker for Blunt.

“Dustin is a product of public higher education in Missouri, and his experience and expertise are what we need moving forward,” UM System President Mun Choi said in a news release. “He understands and has deep relationships with elected officials and the citizens of Missouri.”

Since Choi began March 1, the university laid off most of the team that worked on governmental and public relations at the system level. At the Sept. 29 Board of Curators meeting, Choi announced that the Washington, D.C., firm Clark Hill will handle federal lobbying under a contract paying $120,000 annually.

The university has had a contract since December 2015 with Statehouse Strategies, the lobbying firm operated by Blunt’s son, Andy Blunt, that costs UM $126,000 annually.

Along with monitoring legislation and setting up appointments for university leaders, a news release stated that Schnieders duties include “a comprehensive program to rebuild relationships with elected officials and citizens of Missouri.”

He will also handle information requests from lawmakers, recommend actions for legislative work, provide data on the UM Systems’ economic impact and work on engaging Missouri residents.

The university news release included praise for Schnieders from his current boss and the Democrats’ Senate leader.

Richard said Schnieders is a “team player” capable of handling difficult issues and negotiations.

“While his presence will be missed, I know he will be an effective and valued addition to the University of Missouri System in his new position,” Richard said.

Sen. Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis, said Schnieders’ “professionalism, integrity and deep understanding of the legislative process will be an asset to the University of Missouri System as they work with the General Assembly to secure the resources needed to prepare our future workforce.”

Schnieders has an associate’s degree in general education from Forest Park Community College in St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lincoln University.

The selection does not take the place of an executive director of governmental relations but Choi will decide whether that position is necessary, Basi said.

“That is part of the re-evaluation to see if that is something we need to go forward with that,” Basi said. “We are going to continue to review the need for a strategic planning, but we need someone in the capital tracing those bills, doing that day to day stuff.”