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Sen. Sullivan hires former Alaskan, lobbyist as chief of staff

Sen. Dan Sullivan speaks at a town hall meeting at Bartlett High School in Anchorage on May 20, 2017. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

WASHINGTON — Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan has picked up a new chief of staff — Larry Burton — to replace the one who left to take an appointment with the Trump administration's Interior Department.

Burton grew up in Alaska, arriving at age 10 with a military family and staying through high school. Though his career was spent business-side in Washington, D.C., he maintained strong ties to the state, he said in an interview Monday.

Sullivan's new top staffer held his first Washington job as a college intern in Rep. Don Young's office when he was new to Congress. Burton received a bachelor's degree from Lewis and Clark College and an MBA from George Washington University.

He returned to work for Young after college, and later spent several years working for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, and then for the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan administration.

But since 1987, Burton has been working as a lobbyist for British Petroleum, the Business Roundtable, CVS Health and the American Council of Life Insurers, according to a biography provided by Sullivan's office.

Burton said he reached out to Sullivan's office in recent months, before the previous chief of staff, Joe Balash, was nominated to a position at the Interior Department. He missed Alaska and was eager to get back to focusing on the state, he said.

Given recent activity in Congress, Burton's work may just come full circle to when he left the body in 1987: once again, Alaska's lawmakers are optimistic that they can open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Burton said he thinks this time, there's a better chance to make it happen than when he was at BP.

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