Willard is scheduled to start work on April 12, Sebree said.

As Parson’s chief of staff, Aaron Willard made more than $142,000 last year, according to state payroll records. Though Becky Willard’s salary wasn’t immediately known, her predecessor in 2019 made more than $160,000 in total compensation, records show.

Becky Willard had worked as a director for Axiom Strategies, a national GOP political consulting firm founded by Missourian Jeff Roe.

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The line in the state budget authorizing taxpayer support for the Hawthorn Foundation has been a point of contention in the past among lawmakers who control the state’s purse strings.

The Hawthorn Foundation contracts with another nonprofit, the Missouri Partnership, to promote international commerce in the state.

In 2019 tax records, the most recent year for which the Hawthorn Foundation’s financial filings were available, the nonprofit reported receiving $2.4 million in “government grants” and said it generated more than $2 million in other revenue.

The Hawthorn Foundation reported spending $76,000 on travel or entertainment expenses for public officials in 2019.

The then-executive director of the nonprofit, Steve Oslica, made nearly $141,000 in base compensation and another $24,000 in additional compensation that year, according to the records.