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Senior Adviser for Water and Western Resource Issues

Alan Mikkelsen is the Senior Adviser for Water and Western Resource Issues in the Office of the Secretary. His portfolio includes all departmental water issues, including coordinating with the assistant secretary for water and science and the commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation on “priority water matters.” Previously, he was the Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau of Reclamation is a “water management agency with a Strategic Plan outlining numerous programs, initiatives and activities,” and helps “Western States, Native American Tribes and others meet new water needs and balance the multitude of competing uses of water in the West.”

Alan Mikkelsen is a former rancher from Montana with close ties to Ryan Zinke. In 1985, Mikkelsen started Alpine Research LLC, a “consulting business that focused on public policy and government affairs, including water rights, land acquisition, wildlife, timber and agricultural issues,” that appears to still be registered and in “active good standing.” In the same year, he began serving “as the executive director of the Flathead Joint Board of Control, a collective representing irrigators that formerly oversaw the Flathead Irrigation Project on the Flathead Indian Reservation.” Mikkelsen began his foray into politics in 2000, working as Dennis Rehberg’s congressional campaign manager, and after he won, Mikkelsen moved to Washington D.C. to work as Rehberg’s chief of staff. More recently, Mikkelsen worked as Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaign manager.

Sources: [Bernhardt taps science, water advisers,” E&E News, 02/05/19, About Us- Mission/Vision,” United States Bureau of Reclamation, accessed 06/07/17, Dillon Tabish, “Zinke Names Former Campaign Manager to Reclamation Department,” Flathead Beacon, 04/20/17, LinkedIn Profile for Alan Mikkelsen, accessed 06/07/17, “Alpine Research LLC,” Montana Secretary of State, accessed 06/07/17, “St. Ignatius consultant becomes Zinke campaign manager,” Missoulian, 07/15/14, and Erin Billings, “Rehberg hires retired rancher to manage campaign,” Helena Independent Record, 05/03/00]

Special Interests

Alpine Research LLC (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Mikkelsen runs Alpine Research, a consulting business that has had irrigation districts as clients and that works on public policy and government affairs, including water rights, land acquisition, wildlife, timber and agricultural issues.

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also connected to:

Flathead Indian Reservation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Mikkelsen is an irrigator on the Flathead Indian Reservation located in Western Montana.

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also connected to:

Flathead Joint Board of Control (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Mikkelsen has served as the executive director of, and as a consultant for, the Flathead Joint Board of Control, a collective representing irrigators that oversaw the Flathead Irrigation Project on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

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also connected to:

Mission Irrigation District Commission (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Mikkelsen's business had a contract with the Mission Irrigation District Commission, but Mikkelsen came under fire because the charges were never properly approved or disclosed to the public.

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Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

Alan Mikkelsen runs Alpine Research LLC, a “consulting business” that focuses on “water rights, land acquisition, wildlife, timber and agricultural issues.”

According to information available on the Montana Secretary of State’s website, Alpine Research LLC is still in “active good standing” and Mikkelsen is listed as the registered agent.

Mikkelsen has “represented various public and private natural resource clients and represented various irrigation districts before the U.S. Congress.”

[Dillon Tabish, “Zinke Names Former Campaign Manager to Reclamation Department,” Flathead Beacon, 04/20/17 and Megan Strickland, “Irrigation District investigates fees,” Valley Journal, 06/11/14]

Alpine Research LLC is registered with the Montana Secretary of State and is in “active good standing.” According to Montana Secretary of State’s website, Alan Mikkelsen seems to still be the registered agent.

[“Alpine Research LLC,” Montana Secretary of State, accessed 06/07/17]

Political Connections

Alan Mikkelsen has donated over $7,000 to Republican candidates since 1992.

Alan Mikkelsen’s donations include $3,500 to his former boss, Denny Rehberg.

[Political Moneyline Search for Alan Mikkelsen, CQ, accessed 06/07/17]

Current Activity

Potential Conflict of Interest:

Alan Mikkelsen has “represented various irrigation districts” and his company, Alpine Research LLC, has had irrigation districts as clients. Because his company appears to still be operating, and the Bureau of Reclamation has jurisdiction over many irrigation projects, potential conflicts of interest could arise.

[Dillon Tabish, “Zinke Names Former Campaign Manager to Reclamation Department,” Flathead Beacon, 04/20/17, “Alpine Research LLC,” Montana Secretary of State, accessed 06/07/17, and Megan Strickland, “Irrigation District investigates fees,” Valley Journal, 06/10/14]

Financials

Financial Disclosure

Department of the Interior salary: $162,000

[Alan Wayne Mikkelsen, ProPublica’s Trump Town, accessed 03/15/18]

Other Information

In 1996, Alan Mikkelsen ran for Montana’s congressional seat but lost in the Republican primary.

Alan Mikkelsen, in 1996, ran for Montana’s congressional seat but “plac[ed] a distant third in the three-way race for the Republican nomination.”

[Erin Billings, “Rehberg hires retired rancher to manage campaign,” Helena Independent Record, 05/03/00]

Alan Mikkelsen has been involved with the Flathead Joint Board of Control and the Flathead Irrigation Project, serving as the executive director of the FJBC and later as a consultant for the FJBC. He is also an irrigator on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana.

Alan Mikkelsen, from 1985 to 1995, “served as the executive director of the Flathead Joint Board of Control, a collective representing irrigators that formerly oversaw the Flathead Irrigation Project on the Flathead Indian Reservation.”

[Dillon Tabish, “Zinke Names Former Campaign Manager to Reclamation Department,” Flathead Beacon, 04/20/17, and “Alan Mikkelsen, Deputy Commissioner,” United States Bureau of Reclamation, accessed 06/07/17]

Alan Mikkelsen is also a former consultant for the Flathead Joint Board of Control.

[Vince Devlin, “Irrigator files campaign complaint against Flathead water compact opponents,” Missoulian, 04/30/13]

Alan Mikkelsen is an irrigator on the Flathead Indian Reservation located in Western Montana.

[Vince Devlin, “Irrigator files campaign complaint against Flathead water compact opponents,” Missoulian, 04/30/13]

In 2013, Alan Mikkelsen filed a complaint against Western Montana Water Users Association LLC, alleging that they had made “‘illegal campaign contributions… in the irrigation district elections.'”

[Bryce Gray, “Whistle blown in FJBC election,” Lake County Leader & Advertiser, 05/01/13]

In 2014, the Mission Irrigation District Commission hired an attorney to investigate a $36,000 contract handed to Alan Mikkelsen’s firm without any public disclosure. The District Attorney who hired Mikkelsen under a contract clause that allowed him “to employ whomever he wants as a consultant” was later fired.

In 2014, the Mission Irrigation District Commissioners hired an attorney to look into a $36,000 contract with Alan Mikkelsen’s firm, Alpine Research LLC, because the charges were “never properly approved or disclosed to the public.” The fired district attorney hired Mikkelson’s firm via a contract clause that allowed him “to employ whomever he wants as a consultant.”

[Megan Strickland, “Irrigation District investigates fees,” Valley Journal, 06/10/14]

Alan Mikkelsen served as treasurer and was on the Board of Directors of National Water Resources Association, an organization that aims to “advocate federal policies, legislation, and regulations promoting protection, management, development, and beneficial use of water resources.”

Alan Mikkelsen “served as the treasurer for the National Water Resources Association while representing Montana on NWRA’s Board of Directors.”

[“Alan Mikkelsen, Deputy Commissioner,” USBR.gov, accessed 06/07/17, and “Home,” Natural Water Resources Association, accessed 06/07/17]