Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s Washington D.C. office has a new face. It’s the administration’s current Arctic Policy Advisor, and Walker’s former running mate, Craig Fleener.
Fleener replaces the current senior staffer, Associate Director Nathan Butzlaff, who is leaving to be with his wife in Wisconsin, where she has a new job.
According to the Governor’s office Fleener will continue to fill his role on Arctic policy while taking over the title of Washington D.C. Office Director. The office’s only other staff, Research Analyst Amy Dobson, will also see her role expand into more policy advocacy work.
Whatever the title, the role of the top person in Alaska’s D.C. office has traditionally been to serve as the state’s chief lobbyist to the House and Senate, federal agencies, and the White House.
Governor Walker’s Communication Director Grace Jang says, the move of Fleener to the D.C. office makes perfect sense, “while the Arctic is in Alaska, the policy is being made in D.C.”
Fleener will see his salary rise from $128,000 to $210,000. Jang, however, said the overall impact of the move will save the state of Alaska money because Fleener’s new salary will be less than the combined current salaries of Fleener and the outgoing Butzlaff ($117,000). Fleener’s new pay is also in line with the Parnell administration’s D.C. office Director Kip Knutson who took home $225,000 in salary.
This move follows a shake-up of Walker’s D.C. office last October when he let go Knudson and Associate Director Thomas Crafford, while ultimately deciding to keep Butzlaff and Dobson on. At the time Alaska Public Media reported the overall downsizing from five staff to two would save the state $400,000.