A former chief of staff to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is opening a Washington office for Oxbow Carbon, an energy company founded by one of the Koch brothers.
Karen Knutson, who had worked for Murkowski since 2007 before leaving in June, e-mailed friends on Sunday to announce the move.
“Oxbow is headquartered in Florida but has operations in Colorado, California, Texas, Illinois, and overseas. Oxbow is a diverse energy company with coal mines, coke calcining facilities, and natural gas operations,” she wrote. “I am so honored to be working with a great team of professionals and look forward to putting together a top-notch D.C. team.”
In an interview, Knutson said she is touring Oxbow’s operations and doing an analysis of the company’s lobbying needs.
“I’ve been an energy policy wonk as long as I’ve been on the Hill and it’s good to be engaged fully in those areas again,” she said.
After Murkowski lost last year’s GOP primary for her reelection to tea party favorite Joe Miller, Knutson was a driving force behind the senator’s successful write-in campaign. She served as a key link between establishment Republicans in Washington and the Alaska campaign operation.
In addition to her energy work for Murkowski, Knutson also worked as Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy and environment adviser. As Oxbow’s top lobbyist, Knutson will represent an energy company with more than $4 billion in annual sales founded by Bill Koch, the brother of David and Charles, whose funding of conservative causes and the tea party has generated headlines and controversy.
Knutson’s move to lobbying also launches a new K Street power couple. Her husband Kent is Home Depot’s vice president of government relations.