Alaska’s top alcohol and marijuana regulator is resigning to take another state job

Glen Klinkhart, the head of the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, is quitting to take a job with the Alaska Department of Revenue, he told the state’s alcohol and marijuana boards this week.

Klinkhart will leave his job as the state’s top alcohol and marijuana regulator on April 17, he said in his resignation letter. The letter said he feels that he has addressed the problems that led Gov. Mike Dunleavy to name him the interim chief of AMCO in November 2019.

Klinkhart arrived at AMCO after the state’s alcohol and marijuana boards fired the agency’s prior director, Erika McConnell, amid a dispute with the Department of Public Safety and a controversial regulatory proposal that would have attempted to define “fun” at licensed brewery taprooms. The governor named Klinkhart the agency’s permanent director in March 2021.

By phone, Klinkhart said he intends to take a job with the Department of Revenue’s investigations unit. That unit is tasked with investigating Permanent Fund dividend fraud, among other issues.

A former Anchorage Police Department investigator, Klinkhart has a recent history of working as a “fireman” to address problems at state agencies. After leaving APD, he became an internal affairs investigator for the Alaska Department of Corrections, then served for seven months as manager of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

He briefly served as director of drug policy for the Alaska Substance Abuse Task Force before being named AMCO’s leader. He said he does not believe the revenue department’s investigative arm has significant problems.

Asked about the timeline for replacing Klinkhart and whether the administration has someone in mind, the governor’s deputy communications director said only that a media release will be issued when a new director is selected.

The position is not subject to legislative confirmation, and the appointee cannot be removed by the governor, except for cause.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.