Gov. Dunleavy’s office contracts ex-aide for ‘statehood defense’

A man talks next to a flag.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy during a news conference at the Atwood Building in Anchorage on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. (Matthew Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office has entered a contract with a former Dunleavy aide for up to $50,000 in part to advise the administration on what legal fights to pursue against the federal government.

The contract with Strategic Synergies LLC was signed in April and released by Dunleavy’s office last week. Brett Huber is listed on the contract as the firm’s sole owner. The contract period is for April 25 through Oct. 24.

Alaska has long had a contentious relationship with the federal government over lands and resource development and other issues. The state has a history of pushing back in areas where it thinks the federal government is overreaching.

Huber was Dunleavy’s campaign manager in 2018 and an aide to Dunleavy following the Republican’s election. Huber went on the manage an unsuccessful campaign in 2020 against a voter initiative that ends party primaries and institutes ranked choice voting for general elections.

He was brought back to the administration last year as a senior policy advisor for “statehood defense.”

Brett Huber (right), Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s then-senior policy advisor, on Dec. 11, 2019. Also pictured, from left to right, are John MacKinnon and Ben Stevens. (Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Huber left work in state government on April 2, said Patty Sullivan, a Dunleavy spokesperson. She said the position Huber held within the administration “has not been filled, and existing staff cannot perform the unique work.”

She said by email that Huber was selected for the contract because the work is similar to what he was doing as a state employee and is “beyond the ability of a line attorney at the Department of Law to perform.”

The job involves coordinating work that’s being done across several agencies, she said. The contract is expected to save the state money compared to what Huber would make in salary and benefits as an employee, she said.

The contract calls for research and consulting on the “broad issue of ‘Statehood Defense.’” Among other things, it calls for meeting with Dunleavy’s chief of staff and other employees on “key Alaska defense issues,” researching federal laws and regulations related to Alaska lands and providing recommendations for legal action “to protect Alaska.”

Huber did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.

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