AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday named a San Antonio attorney and businessman who served on the Texas Public Safety Commission as secretary of state, Texas' chief elections officer.
John Steen replaces Hope Andrade, who announced she was stepping down last week after four years on the job saying only that it was time to leave.
In addition to running elections, Steen will serve as Perry's liaison on border and Mexican affairs and become the state's chief protocol officer on international affairs.
Steen has contributed around $56,000 to Perry's gubernatorial campaigns, mostly through expenses incurred at Perry events. He also has given money to other top Republicans, including Attorney General Greg Abbott, Comptroller Susan Combs and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, according to filings with the Texas Ethics Commission.
The Public Safety Commission oversees the Department of Public Safety and its five members are appointed by Perry and confirmed by the state senate for six-year terms. In February, Perry had named Steen to a second term that would have expired at the end of 2017.
Steen is also past chairman of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and once served on the Texas Commission on Economy and Efficiency in State Government. He was vice chairman of the University of Texas San Antonio Development board and served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve.
"I am humbled and deeply honored by Gov. Perry's appointment to serve Texas as its 108th Secretary of State," Steen said in a statement. "Serving the state of Texas is an extraordinary privilege, and I look forward to promoting the Texas success story to create more economic opportunities for our citizens and continuing to work with our neighbor, Mexico, toward a prosperous future."
He added: "I will make it my highest priority to preserve the integrity of our elections and ensure they are fair, accessible and secure."
Perry said Steen's "strong business background and dedication to public service throughout the years make him uniquely qualified to serve in this important role."
"His leadership over our state's elections process, economic development efforts and international relations will be an integral part of Texas' goal to expand economic prosperity and opportunity for all Texans," the governor said in a statement.
The secretary of state's office has been in the news frequently of late amid pre-Election Day controversies surrounding the purging of nearly 70,000 presumably dead people from voter rolls and an international group of voting monitors whom Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott threatened to arrest.