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Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy

Gregg Renkes graduated from Vassar College with a degree in biology and environmental science in 1981 and went on to receive a master’s degree in Forestry Service from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1983 before receiving his law degree from the University of Colorado in 1986. He worked in the Alaska Court System from 1986-1987 and would then join Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski’s staff in 1987.  He would go on to serve on Murkowski’s staff in various roles including Legislative Assistant, Legislative Director, and Chief of Staff, before moving on to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to be the Staff Director in 1994. Renkes left the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee on March 1st, 1998 to run Murkowski’s reelection campaign. After the campaign, Renkes set up his own lobbying and consulting firm, Renkes Group, Ltd and would also work at Steptoe and Johnson on Native American law issues.

Renkes served as Alaska’s Attorney General under then-Governor Murkowski from 2002 to 2005. In 2004, the Federal Elections Commission fined a political action committee run by Renkes and tied to Murkowski’s re-election campaign for accepting $19,000 in illegal corporate contributions. Renkes would ultimately resign as Attorney General in February 2005 after an investigation found Renkes violated ethics laws for not asking for an outside opinion regarding his ownership of $100,000 worth of shares in KFx, a company that could have potentially benefited from a deal between Alaska and Taiwan that Renkes coordinated.  The deal, valued at $1 billion, would have allowed KFx to process coal found on Cook Inlet for use in Taiwan.

Following his resignation as Attorney General, Renkes worked as a Ryan, Phillips, Utrecht and MacKinnon lobbyist from 2005-2006. He reported being an attorney for Fisher Properties in a September 2006 political contribution report and would list the same occupation and employer as late as May 2018.

In 2017, Renkes joined the Interior Department as Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs. In September 2018, Alaska Public Media reported that he had been appointed the Director of Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis. During a hearing in March of 2019, Interior’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget Scott Cameron stated that Renkes “was recently detailed to the immediate Office of the Secretary” and “is not running the Office of Policy Analysis.”

Sources: [Michael Doyle, “Former Alaska AG picked to lead policy office,” E&E News, 09/05/18; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, “The Record,” Fall 2012; University of Colorado Law School, “Faculty Addendum,” Colorado Law Scholarly Commons, 10/11/95; “The Science Subcommittee On Basic Research In The House,” Inside Energy/With Federal Lands, 02/16/1998; Ben Spiess, “Murkowski Hires New Campaign Manager, Shake-Up: D.C. Lobbyist To Run Daily Operations,” Anchorage Daily News, 08/30/02; Gregg D. Renkes Profile, Legistorm Search for Gregg Renkes, Accessed 04/28/19; “Alaska Ear,” Anchorages Daily News, 07/25/04; Liz Ruskin, “PAC Linked To Governor, Attorney General Fined; Bookkeeping Cited: Renkes Was A Lobbyist And Murkowski A Senator At Time,” Anchorage Daily News, 04/20/04; State AG Resigns After Criticism Over Coal Deal, E&E News, 02/07/05; “Alaskans for Don Young July 15th Quarterly Report 2018,”Federal Elections Commission, 10/06/06; “Full Committee Hearing,” House Natural Resources Committee Democrats, 03/27/19 (26:14)

Special Interests

ExxonMobil Corporation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

According to his 278 form, Renkes holds stock in ExxonMobil (XOM) and was once involved in negotiating with ExxonMobil and other oil and gas companies regarding a new trans-Alaska pipeline in 2003. According to the Associated Press, ExxonMobil had a 20.34 percent ownership in the pipeline.

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BP (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Renkes was lobbying for the Renkes Group, one of his clients in 2001 was BP, an oil and gas company. As Attorney General of Alaska, Renkes was involved in negotiations with BP in 2003 regarding a trans-Alaskan pipeline. BP Exploration Alaska owned 46.93 percent of the pipeline.

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ConocoPhillips (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Renkes was lobbying for the Renkes Group, one of his clients in 1999 was ARCO, a gas provider. Renkes was a member of the then-President elect George W. Bush’s transition team in January 2001, which also had Don Duncan, federal relations advisor to Phillips Petroleum Co as a member. Inside Energy reported that Phillips had an interest in seeing a natural gas pipeline Alaska’s North Slope and reauthorization of the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System. Phillips Petroleum acquired ARCO Alaska in 2000 and would later merge with Conoco, Inc in August in 2002 to become ConocoPhillips. As Alaska’s Attorney General, Renkes was involved with negotiations of the trans-Alaska pipeline, of which ConcoPhillips owned 28.3 percent.

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ARCO (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Renkes was lobbying for the Renkes Group, one of his clients in 1999 was ARCO, a gas provider. Renkes was a member of the then-President elect George W. Bush’s transition team in January 2001, which also had Don Duncan, federal relations advisor to Phillips Petroleum Co as a member. Inside Energy reported that Phillips had an interest in seeing a natural gas pipeline Alaska’s North Slope and reauthorization of the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System. Phillips Petroleum acquired ARCO Alaska in 2000 and would later merge with Conoco, Inc in August in 2002 to become ConocoPhillips. As Alaska’s Attorney General, Renkes was involved with negotiations of the trans-Alaska pipeline, of which ConcoPhillips owned 28.3 percent.

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Coeur D'Alene Mines Corporation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

As a lobbyist with both the Renkes Group, Ltd. from 1999-2002 and Ryan Phillips Utrecht & Mackinnon (now Ryan MacKinnon Vasapoli & Berzok) Renkes lobbied on behalf of clients including the Coeur D'Alene Mines Corporation. As Alaska’s Attorney General, Renkes became the of an investigation on whether he violated the state ethics code for negotiating a coal deal with Taiwan that would have benefited KFx, Inc. It was discovered that he sold shares in the Coeur D'Alene Mines Corporation on the same day he stock in coal technology company KFx, Inc. The shares Coeur D'Alene Mines Corporation had been purchased and 2003 and 2004 and Renkes also served on Coeur D'Alene Mines Corporation’s subsidiary Earthworks Technologies in 2002. Renkes stepped down from the Earthworkers Technologies board when he was appointed Attorney General in 2002, but environmentalists were concerned because the company also prepared environmental reports for the proposed gold mine in Kensington, Alaska. Although Renkes’s stock ownership had been part of the KFx inquiry, the lead investigator said he was unaware of any action undertaken by Renkes related to the Kensington projected on behalf of Alaska or its law department.

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Sealaska (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Renkes was lobbying for the Renkes Group, one of his clients from 1999-2001 was Sealaska, which claims they “are a passionate group of problem-solvers with a purpose – working to strengthen our communities while also becoming a global leader in sustainable business practices.” Renkes would later run the Americans for Sound Energy Policy PAC, which would be fined $19,000 in 2004 by the Federal Elections Committee for accepting illegal corporate contributions, which would also be refunded. Sealaska was one of the entities receiving a refund from the PAC for money spent on dinners.

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Background Information

Previous Employers

Sources: [University of Colorado Law School, “Faculty Addendum,” Colorado Law Scholarly Commons, 10/11/95; “Renkes, Gregg,” Opensecrets.org, Accessed 04/28/19; Gregg Renkes 278 Form, Office of Government Ethics; Michael Doyle, “Former Alaska Ag Picked To Lead Policy Office,” E&E News, 09/05/18]

From 1999 to 2002, Gregg Renkes Was A Registered Lobbyist For The Renkes Group, Ltd.

When he ran the Renkes group, Renkes’s clients included ARCO, Sealaska, Coeur D’Alene Mines Corporation, and BP America. 

Source: [Search For Gregg Renkes, United States Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, Accessed 05/14/19]

From 2005 To 2002, Gregg Renkes Was A Registered Lobbyist For Ryan Phillips Utrecht & Mackinnon.

As a lobbyist for Ryan Phillips Utrecht & Mackinnon (now Ryan MacKinnon Vasapoli & Berzok) Renkes lobbied on behalf of clients including the Coeur D’Alene Mines Corporation.

Sources: [Search For Gregg Renkes, United States Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, Accessed 05/14/19; Kate Ackley, “Ryan, Phillips, Utrecht Splits Into Two Firms”, Roll Call, 01/07/09]

Renkes Lists 23 Entities As Positions He Has Held Outside The United States Government On His Office Of Government Ethics Form 278e. He Worked For Fisher Properties As COO And General Counsel. He Listed His Position For Clean Tech LLC As “Member” And As “Secretary For The Other Organizations.

  • Fischer Properties LLC
  • Clean Tech LLC
  • RF Corporate Management
  • Depot Market Management Inc.
  • S National Management Corp
  • Washington Cold Storage Inc.
  • Polar Star Housing Corp.
  • North Star Alaska Housing Corp
  • S. National Leasing LLC
  • S. National Leasing California LLC
  • Dick Fischer Development LLC
  • Interior Design Associates LLC
  • Raspberry Investments LLC
  • National Aircraft Leasing #2 LLC
  • Golden State Energy LLC
  • Depot Property Management LLC
  • Polar Star Lands LLC
  • S. National Depot Lands LLC
  • Alta Terra LLC
  • Three Waters Green LLC
  • Raeford Fields LLC
  • Sun Valley Investments LLC
  • S. National Housing L.P.

According to the 278 form Renkes ended his tenure at all of these entities in August of 2018 except Clean Tech LLC, which is still ongoing. In July 2018, it was reported U.S. National Leasing LLC decided to sell property in Sacramento, California after founder Richard Fischer retired, which may indicate why Renkes ended his work with all but one of these entities.

Sources: [Gregg Renkes OGE 278 Form, Office of Government Ethics; Ben Van Der Meer, “New Development Eyed After $44 Million Sale Of Depot Park,” Sacramento Business Journal, 07/13/18]

Financials

Financial Disclosure

[Gregg Renkes OGE Form 278e, Office of Government Ethics]

Current Activity

Renkes’s current office and title are unknown. Although it had been announced he would be the Director of the Office of Policy Analysis in September of 2018, it appears he left that position according to testimony during the March 27th, 2019 hearing for the House Natural Resources Committee. During the hearing, the chair of the committee, Congressman Raúl Grijalva displayed a redacted email that stated, “Anything going to the Senate or Representative Grijalva regardless of signature level must be reviewed and surnamed by John Tanner and Gregg Renkes at DOI.”

Grijalva asked Interior’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget Scott Cameron what Tanner and Renkes were working on and Cameron replied they were helping then-Acting Secretary David Bernhardt with his confirmation process. Grijalva asked if Renkes’s supervisor, Rob Gordon, reported to Cameron. Cameron responded that Renkes “was recently detailed to the immediate Office of the Secretary.” It is unknown when the move occurred.

Grijalva continued to ask why Renkes’s job had been to filter communications from “from Interior, from Fish and Wildlife, and from Park Service” and what was the reasoning behind this. Cameron replied “I can only tell you that Gregg Renkes is now on detail to the Office of the Secretary. He is not running the Office of Policy Analysis.”

Sources: [“Ex-Alaska AG Leads Interior Office With Focus On Arctic, ‘Adaptation’”, Alaska Public Radio, 09/05/18; “Full Committee Hearing,” House Natural Resources Committee Democrats, 03/27/19 (26:14)]

Other Information

Americans For Sound Energy

While Renkes Was The Treasurer For The Americans For Sound Energy Policy PAC, It Was Fined $4,500 For Accepting Illegal Contributions From Corporations.

On April 20th, 2004, it was reported that the Americans for Sound Energy (AFSE) PAC was fined $4,500 for the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for accepting $19,000 in illegal corporate contributions, which it also refunded. Renkes the PAC’s treasurer with Murkowski as the honorary chairman. Renkes claimed he and Murkowski formed the group to promote a national energy policy.

During the four years it was active, the PAC gave $40,000 in contributions to 19 Republican candidates. The group had been described as a leadership PAC for Murkowski in a 1999 news article, which he did not deny at the time. According to the FEC, AFSE accepted a total of $19,302 in illegal contributions. Six of the ten contributions totaled at $8,000 and had come from corporations.

Other errors that had to be addressed include moving contribution that was meant for Murkowski’s Senate account that was deposited in the PAC’s bank account and illegal in-kind contributions stemming from annual dinners held by Murkowski and his wife, Nancy. AFSE refunded contributions totaling $8,802 to Sealaska Corp and Arco Alaska to reimburse them for the money spent on the dinners.

Renkes blamed the situation on “a bunch of bookkeeping errors” and said this should not reflect badly on either him or Murkowski. He also claimed the “sloppy” Virginia-based bookkeeper had left the state without leaving a forwarding address. Renkes said: “’I guess ultimately I’m responsible, but I relied on somebody I paid to do this bookkeeping, to follow the FEC rules and file the FEC reports. And she didn’t follow all of the requirements’” He called managing AFSE “a nightmare” and claimed “this comes out as another shot at my character, when I was trying to do something good there.”

Sources: [Liz Ruskin, “PAC Linked To Governor, Attorney General Fined; Bookkeeping Cited: Renkes Was A Lobbyist And Murkowski A Senator At Time,” Anchorage Daily News, 04/20/04]

KFx Inc.

Then-Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes Was Found To Have Failed To Follow State Law Regarding A Coal Deal Between Alaska And Taiwan.

On October 1st, 2004, the Associated Press reported then-Attorney General for Alaska Gregg Renkes was in a position to potentially profit from a deal between KFx Inc., a company that had patented a drying process for coal and Taiwan which was looking to buy large quantities of Beluga coal. Renkes was reported to be an active shareholder in KFx, (owning 13,100 shares at the time of the article) with ties going back to at least 1998. He was also a lead spokesman for Alaska on the deal, valued at $1 billion dollars. After this conflict was reported, Renkes said he’d sell his shares immediately and donate the profits to charity to address any potential conflict of interest.

Further investigation revealed Renkes had deeper ties to KFx, including a shared business housed in the same office building as KFx, a common employee, previous work history for a company that had invested in millions in a KFx plant that later failed and a residential address that was located only two houses away from a KFx co-founder.

Documents released in response to a public records request also detailed how Renkes was more deeply involved with the KFx deal despite his denials. Hundreds of emails, memos, letters, phone logs, press conference transcripts and other materials show that Renkes had brought KFx to the attention of Alaska officials, flew to Taiwan to promote the project, hosted Taiwanese representatives visiting Alaska, using the governor’s signature to write to Taiwanese officials to promote KFx’s technology, talked to Alaska officials to keep the deal moving and rewrote a Taiwan/Alaska trade agreement to significantly benefit KFx. He did not inform then-Governor Murkowski of his KFx connections despite Renkes having worked with Murkowski in various capacities for over a decade.

An investigation found that while Renkes had not violated the state’s ethics code, he did break state law by continuing to be involved in the deal without seeking guidance on ethics. The report also found that the financial benefits to Renkes would have been “insignificant.” However, it also concluded that Renkes knew he was “walking a fine ethics line” by declining to sign a memorandum of understanding between Taiwan and Alaska and telling the state’s trade director he did not think it would be “’appropriate’” to sign.

After the report’s release, Murkowski censured Renkes but “would not seek Renkes’ resignation” and agreed with the investigation that Renkes had used poor judgment when deleting emails on the day news outlets reported his KFx ties. Renkes also faced an ethics complaint filed with the state personnel board from people who thought the board could provide a more independent investigation than the one provided by the governor’s office.

Renkes resigned as Alaska’s Attorney General on February 11th, 2005. After Renkes stepped down, Alaska’s state house considered an amendment that was proposed in response to the Renkes investigation. The proposed amendment would close loopholes on how much stock a public employee owns while engaging on official action that would affect the company. The amendment ultimately failed.

Sources: [“Alaska Attorney General Could Profit Under State Coal Deal,” Associated Press, 10/1/04; Dan Joling, “Alaska AG Says He Will Sell Coal-Drying Stock, Donate Profits,” Associated Press, 10/4/04; “Ties Between Kfx And Renkes Go Deeper Than Stock,” Associated Press, 10/10/04; Paula Dobbyn, “Renkes Mixed Personal, State Business; Taiwan: Documents Show Alaska’s Attorney General Was At The Heart Of Effort To Sell Coal And Coal-Drying Technology, Anchorage Daily News, 12/5/04; Matt Volz, “Report Clears AG Of Ethics Violations, Finds Lesser Infraction,” Associated Press, 01/25/05; Matt Volz, “Governor Censures Attorney General,” Associated Press, 01/28/05; Sean Cockerham, “Murkowski Reprimands Renkes; Ethics: Personnel Board Will Conduct An Independent Investigation,” 01/29/05, Matt Volz; “Berkowitz Amendment Would Address Ethics Gap,” Associated Press, 02/02/05; “Attorney General Steps Down,” Associated Press, 02/11/05; Matt Volz, “Ethics Amendment Rejected By House,” Associated Press, 02/23/05]

Gregg Renkes’s Wife Maureen Receives Income From Jenny Lake Boating, Which Provides Tours, Shuttles And Other Services To Visitors At Grand Teton National Park.

According to Renkes’s 278 form, his wife Maureen receives a salary from Jenny Lake Boating, Inc. According to the site, Jenny Lake Boating provides shuttle services, cruises and rental boats to Grand Teton National Park visitors. It is unclear what services or work Maureen Renkes provides for Jenny Lake Boating, Inc.

Sources: [“Alaska Ear,” Anchorage Daily News, 04/06/03; Jenny Lake Boating, Inc, accessed 05/01/19; Gregg Renkes 278 Form, Office of Government Ethics]

Gregg Renkes Owns Stock In Exxonmobil

According to his 278, Renkes has stock worth between $1,0001 to $15,000 in ExxonMobil and gains income from dividends and capital gains in the amount range between $201 to $1,000.

During his tenure as Alaska Attorney General, Renkes was involved with the negotiations of a trans-Alaska oil pipeline over a new tariff in 2003. According to the Associated Press, ExxonMobil had a 20.34 percent ownership in the pipeline.

Sources: [Gregg Renkes 278 Form, Office of Government Ethics; “State To Begin Tariff Negotiations With Pipeline Owners, Associated Press, 10/13/03]

Then-Alaska Attorney General Renkes And Lobbyist Sam Kito Had Shares In Tourist Lodge That Burned To The Ground.

In July 2004 it was reported the Angler’s Choice Lounge, of which both Renkes and  Kito each owned 40 percent was destroyed in a fire. The lodge had been located seven miles from Elfin Cove, which is southwest of the entrance to Glacier Bay National Park. No one was there when the fire happened, but the damage was estimated to be at $300,000.

Renkes and Kito had been personal friends for nearly two decades and Renkes commented: “I keep my personal friendship and any business relationship separate from any official business. So right now, I don’t have any conflict, I don’t perceive any conflict.” Kito was considered one of Alaska’s most influential lobbyists, having made $463,337 in 2003 representing clients including Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, General Communication Inc. and Icicle Seafoods in front of government entities including the state legislature, the governor’s office and the Alaska Department of Law, which was led by Renkes at the time.

Sources: [“Alaska Ear,” Anchorage Daily News, 07/25/04; “Lodge Fire Shines Light On Renkes, Lobbyist Partnership,” Associated Press, 08/16/04]