House Speaker Sexton Names New Chief Of Staff

Photo: Speaker Sexton’s new Chief of Staff, Sammie Arnold

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Published August 24, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

House Speaker Cameron Sexton has selected his new chief of staff, replacing Holt Whitt with Sammie Arnold who currently works as a part of Governor Lee’s administration.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Arnold currently works in the Department of Economic and Community Development as the Assistant Commissioner of Community and Rural Development. He took on that role in August 2013 after serving as a legislative liaison for former governor Bill Haslam and a campaign staff member for Haslam’s 2010 campaign.

Hailing from Dyersburg, Arnold attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee College of Law.

His wife, Laine, also works for Governor Lee, serving as his communications director.

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Sexton says he has gotten to know Arnold well over the past few years.

“Sammie’s extensive knowledge of our Tennessee communities, experience in public policy, and working with the General Assembly over the years not only makes him a great choice for the position but will ensure a smooth transition without missing a beat,” Sexton stated.

Arnold is replacing Holt Whitt, the former interim chief of staff. Whitt accepted a position in the executive branch over the summer, serving as a senior policy adviser for the Department of Human Resources.

Whitt had been placed on paid leave by Sexton in January after the FBI conducted a search of the Cordell Hull legislative building in regards to a case that involved a number of different legislators.

Authorities confirmed later that Whitt was technically classified as a “witness” in the investigation. For whatever reason, he was never returned to his role in Sexton’s office.

According to Sexton’s office, there has yet to be a salary agreement put into place for Arnold, who is slated to start on September 1. Whitt’s salary at the time of leaving was $175,000. Arnold makes $147,624 in his current position.

When asked about this, Doug Kufner, spokesperson for Sexton, stated, “He hasn’t started yet. However, it will be in line with chiefs of staff of the House and Senate over the years. Also, his salary will be posted on the state and employee website when he is official.”

“It is an incredible honor to join Speaker Sexton and his team as Chief of Staff in the Tennessee House of Representatives,” said Arnold. “I have known and admired Speaker Sexton since he was first elected to the General Assembly, and no one is better equipped than he is to lead this body during this moment of unprecedented opportunity for our state. I look forward to working with him to ensure he and all of our members continue to serve their constituents with the utmost success.”

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About the Author:

Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

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