The Alaska State Capitol. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Two veterans of Alaska politics have signed contracts to work with GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and one of them is maintaining ownership of her advertising, marketing and political strategy firm even as she works as the governor’s acting communications director.
Mary Ann Pruitt’s one-page contract calls for her to be paid $15,400 a month, which equates to $185,000 a year. The contract calls for her to work 37.5 hours a week, without benefits or vacation. In a phone interview Friday, Pruitt said she’s working 12 hours a day.
Her contract does not have an end date, but Pruitt does not intend to keep the job permanently, said Matt Shuckerow, a spokesman for the governor.
In an emailed statement, Shuckerow said, “Her contract is focused on building out the governor’s communications team and the messaging behind his agenda.”
Pruitt also remains the sole owner and president of Anchorage-based PS Strategies, according to documents filed with the state Division of Corporations. Pruitt said she still has “some involvement,” but that it entails limited oversight work like approving payroll.
“My main focus right now is in the governor’s office,” said Pruitt, who is married to Anchorage Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt.
PS Strategies creates advertising campaigns and helps clients decide where and how to broadcast them.
It worked for a super-PAC type group that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads on Dunleavy’s behalf during the gubernatorial election, with support from the Washington D.C.-based Republican Governors Association.
The firm’s website also lists past clients with interests that intersect with state government — from the Support Industry Alliance, an oil and mining industry group, to telecommunications firms GCI and Alaska Communications, as well as environmental and health-care organizations.
Pruitt said most of PS Strategies’ clients are from outside of Alaska. She added she does not see her outside work as conflicting with her state job.
She did not include a list of her firm’s clients on her official financial disclosure. Officials at the state agency that gathers the disclosures, the Alaska Public Offices Commission, said they are assessing a request by Pruitt’s attorney that she be exempted from identifying those clients.
State ethics law bars public employees from holding second jobs that present a conflict of interest. But state officials did not answer questions Friday about how or if that prohibition extends to contract workers.
The state ethics attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The other contractor is Mike Nizich, who once worked as chief of staff to Republican governors Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell.
Nizich lost his job when Parnell lost to independent Bill Walker in the 2014 election.
After Dunleavy replaced Walker last year, Nizich was hired by the governor’s office in December under a two-month contract capped at $34,500.
The contract called for Nizich to review the Alaska Constitution and state laws and regulations, consult with Dunleavy and senior staffers and analyze budgets and organizational structures.
Nizich declined to comment.
Note: This story has been updated to clarify that Dunleavy replaced Walker last year; the story previously said Dunleavy beat Walker in the election, but Dunleavy’s leading opponent was Mark Begich, as Walker suspended his campaign before the election took place.
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