Blatchford abandons fish marketing job after a week

Posted: Sunday, August 07, 2005

ANCHORAGE - Edgar Blatchford, who stepped down last month from posts as state commerce commissioner and director of a Native corporation, resigned one week after starting a state job marketing Alaska seafood to Asia.

Blatchford worked at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in Seattle for five days before notifying executive director Ray Riutta that he was quitting for personal reasons, said Naresh Shrestha, ASMI's finance chief, on Thursday.

Blatchford began work on July 25, after the governor's deputy chief of staff, Mike Nizich, called on his behalf to inquire about a job, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Blatchford stepped down as the state's top commerce official on July 22 after news reports about his activities at Chugach Alaska Corp., a regional Native corporation. Blatchford had resigned as a director of Chugach a few days earlier.

Blatchford's resignation from the corporation followed the release of an internal Chugach report that alleged Blatchford had a conflict of interest in his dual roles as a Native corporation director and chief of the state agency that oversees the corporations.

Blatchford has denied all wrongdoing. He has said he had no conflict because he delegated to a deputy any Chugach matters that came before the Commerce Department.

Last week, Nizich said Blatchford, was qualified and his hiring was an opportunity to take advantage "of a very talented person."

Former ASMI executive director Barbara Belknap said Blatchford's departure will help the seafood marketing organization.

"Now they can go through the normal hiring process of interviewing the best candidates for the job," Belknap said.

Blatchford did not return a phone message left Thursday by the Daily News. His attorney, Ken Jacobus, also could not be reached.

Blatchford, who has a master's in journalism and a law degree, is a former Seward mayor and a tenured professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

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