AGA hires Obama campaign manager, others in New Year staffing up

Jim Messina, the man who helmed the Obama campaign, has been tapped by the American Gaming Association to push for online gaming, which AGA member Sheldon Adelson, who is not exactly the president's number one fan, opposes.

Messina's consultant gig is part of a significant staff shakeup by Geoff Freeman, the gaming organization's boss who took over last year for Frank Fahrenkopf. Freeman also has brought in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's former deputy, John Murray, as a consultant, too, so there is bipartisan balance.

Freeman confirmed the Messina hire, and said, "AGA has retained Jim Messina to advise the organization on a variety of grassroots initiatives, including protecting the right of states to regulate online gaming.”

I wonder how Adelson, who spent a fortune trying to defeat Messina's guy and who now is spending a lot of money to stop online gaming, feels about that move. Freeman, though, clearly believes his job is to push for what the majority of his members want, not what the loudest voice in his group desires.

In addition to those consultants, Freeman also has brought in others to be on his team:

►Sara Rayme, the MGM Resorts International lobbyist, will become the AGA's senior vice president of public affairs.

►Chaka Burgess, who comes from Big Pharma, is the new vice president of government relations.

►Allie Barth, who comes from Freeman's old stomping grounds at the U.S. Travel Association, is the new senior director of communications.
►Elizabeth Cronan, previously with IGT, will be the director of gaming policy. 
►Virginia Hurt Johnson, a veteran lawyer, was hired as the general counsel.