Gov. Walker will replace his staff in Washington, DC

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is clearing out his Washington, D.C., office.

Walker's Director of State and Federal Relations Kip Knudson and associate directors Nathan Butzlaff and Thomas Crafford were given their walking papers Wednesday morning, Knudson told Alaska Dispatch News.

"I have 29 days to find a job," Knudson said.

A replacement for Knudson is expected to be announced this week, the governor's office said.

Walker's Chief of Staff Jim Whitaker called and told him "three of us in the office have 30 days to get our lives in order and help transition ourselves out of the office," Knudson said. Research Analyst Amy Dobson "is going to stay in the office and help whoever is next," he said.

Knudson said he does not know who his replacement will be.

But he said he wasn't surprised.


"I've been expecting it for 11 months," he said, referring to last November's election. "I thank Jim and the governor for giving me that extra 11 months to serve Alaskans."

Former Gov. Sean Parnell appointed Knudson, a one-time Tesoro lobbyist, to act as the state's D.C. point person in October 2011.

He's the highest paid member of the governor's executive staff, last year earning a $207,000 salary and an $83,000 benefits package set by Parnell's final budget.

Knudson said he didn't have any policy disagreements with the governor, and chalked the move up to the nature of political appointments. "It's his prerogative," Knudson said of the governor's decision.

Walker's press secretary, Katie Marquette, responded to questions about the firings with a prepared statement.

"I thank Kip for his years of service to the state of Alaska," the statement quoted Walker as saying. "My office will announce staffing changes for our Washington, D.C., office later this week."

Knudson followed in the footsteps of John Katz, who resigned the post after 30 years in frustration over an increasingly polarized political process.

The situation in Washington, D.C., has only deteriorated since, with the House of Representatives experiencing a leadership crisis, and the Senate struggling to find its way out of a near-permanent party-line stalemate.

The job of the state's chief lobbyist is to act as a representative to the House and Senate, and to federal agencies. Insight into the Obama administration is something Walker has been reaching for in the last few months, since the president's visit to Alaska gave Walker an in on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Walker's office spent $50,000 on a consulting contract with former Obama aide Pete Rouse in advance of the president's trip.

Before taking over for Katz, Knudson worked for Tesoro and Era Aviation, was an aide in the state House, and was deputy commissioner for aviation at the state Department of Transportation.

Erica Martinson reported from Washington, D.C., and Nathaniel Herz from Anchorage.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage-based independent journalist Nathaniel Herz has been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at natherz.substack.com