Ben Stevens, who has served as Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s chief of staff since July 2019, is leaving to take a job with ConocoPhillips Alaska, the administration announced today.
Stevens will be leaving to work for ConocoPhillips Alaska as its Vice President of external affairs and transportation. Deputy Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro is set to fill in as acting chief of staff until a permanent replacement is named.
“I want to thank Ben for his hard work and service to the State of Alaska the past two years. His knowledge and political acumen have been an asset to the administration and I wish him the very best in his new role at ConocoPhillips Alaska,” the governor said in a prepared statement accompanying the announcement.
His exact departure date has not yet been decided.
Senate Republicans said they were disappointed to see Stevens depart from the administration, but declined to compare his impact on the administration to former Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock.
“He’s been good for the administration,” said Senate President Peter Micciche during a news conference today. “He’s seen it all.”
Why it matters: Stevens took over as Chief of Staff in July 2019 following the demotion of former Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock. Babcock was reportedly instrumental in much of the governor’s politically disastrous first year in office that included loyalty pledge firings, a draconian budget and several other missteps (which is a charitable description) that all helped spark the recall effort targeting Dunleavy.
Stevens came in with his own baggage, having left the Alaska Senate amid accusations that he had taken bribes as part the mid-2000s VECO scandals but was generally seen as a much-needed dose of competency for the administration and helped take some of the heat off the governor in terms of the recall (though the effort has recently gained new steam).
Rumors about Stevens’ departure began circulating on Tuesday night.