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Butcher resigns as Revenue commissioner, heads to AHFC

Posted: August 7, 2013 - 9:03pm  |  Updated: August 7, 2013 - 11:09pm
Former Commissioner of Revenue Bryan Butcher, right, and Gov. Sean Parnell respond to reporters' questions at a press conference about an oil tax bill working its way through the Legislature last session.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File
Former Commissioner of Revenue Bryan Butcher, right, and Gov. Sean Parnell respond to reporters' questions at a press conference about an oil tax bill working its way through the Legislature last session.

JUNEAU — Bryan Butcher has resigned as state Revenue commissioner to take over as CEO of the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

AHFC, in a release Wednesday, said Butcher’s appointment is effective immediately. Deputy Commissioner Angela Rodell will serve as acting commissioner, and no timeline has been set for naming a permanent replacement, a spokeswoman for Gov. Sean Parnell, Sharon Leighow, said in an email.

Butcher had been working for AHFC as director of governmental relations and public affairs when he was chosen by Parnell in November 2010 to serve as Revenue commissioner. Butcher’s resignation letter was dated Tuesday.

Butcher was the public face of Parnell’s failed effort to rollback oil production taxes in 2011 and 2012, with some lawmakers complaining during his confirmation vote in 2011 that he hadn’t provided them with all the information they’d requested related to the oil tax debate or that he wasn’t up for the job.

He played a far less public role on the oil tax issue this past session, when a new tax cut proposal championed by Parnell was passed. That tax cut is now the subject of a referendum effort.

“Bryan Butcher was the salesman peddling an Oil Giveaway that even Republicans called ‘half-baked,’” Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Mike Wenstrup said in a release, referring to a comment made by a Republican senator about the tax plan proposed by Parnell during last year’s special session. “Alaskans should be very concerned about his ability to manage the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.”

Butcher replaces Dan Fauske, who had been serving in a dual role as CEO and executive director of AHFC and president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., or AGDC, the group created to advance an in-state natural gas pipeline project.

AHFC, in its release, said Fauske’s resignation will allow him to focus full-time on the gas line effort.

Butcher said there was speculation during the last session — as lawmakers debated a bill meant to further empower AGDC — about Butcher taking over for Fauske at AHFC. But he said the opportunity only came up within the last “couple weeks.”

He said he wasn’t actively pursuing the new job and would have been content staying at Revenue, which he deemed a good fit for him. “But it’s something that I’d been kind of thinking would be a great challenge for years, and I’m pretty excited about it,” he said.

The most difficult part for him, as commissioner, was dealing with the oil tax issue, he said, “because it’s such a polarizing issue, and things get very political, very fast.” He said he never took any of the criticism leveled during the debate personally.

Parnell, in a statement, praised Butcher, saying that under Butcher’s “outstanding leadership,” the tax cut became reality, the state achieved and maintained a high credit rating and the Revenue department implemented a “more reasoned and accurate long-term oil production forecast.”

“I look forward to working with Bryan in his new role as he takes the helm of one of the most important state agencies,” Parnell said. Leighow said Parnell had been aware of Butcher’s intentions, and the resignation did not come as a surprise.

AHFC spokeswoman Stacy Schubert said Butcher will make $250,000 a year in his new role.

AHFC Board Chairman Frank Roppel, in the group’s release, spoke highly of Fauske’s work, and said in a way Fauske’s departure was due to his “overwhelming success” at AHFC.

In an interview, Roppel said Fauske’s attentions had been divided between AHFC and AGDC and it became apparent with passage of the gas line bill this past session that there would need to be full-time focus on efforts to advance that project.

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