Alaska News

Parnell and former rural adviser open consulting business

Former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has opened a consulting business and is working on a project for the U.S. House leadership, part of a recent return to the private sector after taking time off to reflect on his election loss, he said in an Alaska Republican Party newsletter this week.

Parnell also continues to promote solutions to the Alaska's domestic violence and sexual assault epidemic. And he has even found time to relax, by walking and hiking more than 100 miles a month with his wife, Sandy, he said in the pensive commentary. The change in pace after the election has also meant more time with family, he said.

"Back in November and December 2014, the election loss felt anything but good," he wrote. "At the time, Sandy wisely counseled that neither she nor I should rush into a new job, that we should rest, enjoy our family and friends, and think deeply about next steps. We have done all that and more."

Parnell has spent most of the last 20 years in office, serving in both houses of the Alaska Legislature and as lieutenant governor to former Gov. Sarah Palin before becoming governor in 2009. He lost his re-election bid to Gov. Bill Walker in November.

Parnell's private-sector experience includes work as a lobbyist for the oil industry the last time he stepped away from public office, early last decade, including serving as government relations director for ConocoPhillips.

This month, he took a path often picked by former politicians -- including recently defeated Sen. Mark Begich -- when he opened a consulting practice. He's teaming with John Moller, his former rural affairs adviser, to create Navigate North Consultants, or "NavNorth."

The business will pull together experts and seek public policy solutions to support clients, Parnell wrote. It's pursuing office space in Anchorage or the Matanuska Valley.


NavNorth has attracted attention from natural resource companies, construction companies and several Alaska Native corporations, Parnell said, without providing names.

Parnell was visiting family Outside on Tuesday, said Moller, reached by phone that morning. Attempts to contact Parnell directly were unsuccessful.

Moller said he and Parnell will use their knowledge on statewide issues to do things like help write business and community plans. The two currently have no intentions of lobbying, said Moller.

State law prohibits that activity for a year after their state jobs ended in early December.

The work could involve interacting with lobbyists, Moller said.

"We look at what we formed here, our consulting business, as working with lobbyists and other folks, and making teams fuller in hopes of accomplishing things for communities or small businesses or municipalities," Moller said.

Moller said the company is negotiating with potential clients, and it's too early to disclose names.

"We're getting it off the ground," he said. "We've had inquiries, but it'd be premature to mention inquiries until we have something in hand. But it's been exciting. The pings, if you will, from industry and organizations across the state, have been encouraging."

Before forming his business, Parnell in March began working on a consulting project for the U.S. House Republican Conference -- the party caucus for House Republicans -- to connect House leaders with governors and state leaders across the U.S., he said. That project is unrelated to NavNorth, Moller said.

Parnell is also giving time and money to help rid the state of domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking, including recently speaking at the Valley's "No More" domestic violence summit and participating in the Anchorage Choose Respect march.

"That fight was part of who we were as a couple long before I was governor and that part of our lives will continue," wrote Parnell, whose stretch in office included bolstering the village public safety officer force, in part to combat family violence across the state.

Parnell, who as governor pushed through initiatives cutting taxes on cruise-ship passengers and overhauling the oil production tax with support from the industry, said he's pursuing the same priorities in the private sector that he did as governor. He said that includes creating opportunity in areas such as natural resources development, energy policy and safe homes.

"Today, I can honestly say that the sting of loss has been replaced by contentment," he said.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or