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Hatch hires new chief of staff in shake-up

Published November 3, 2010 7:40 pm

Politics • Former Washington lobbyist to take the reins.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch has hired a new chief of staff, Michael Kennedy, a former Washington lobbyist who has recently been heading up Utah State University's government relations.

Jace Johnson, Hatch's current chief of staff, is leaving to take a job as vice president for global government affairs for Adobe Systems, based in San Jose, Calif. Kennedy is expected to take over in a week.

"Michael will be joining my staff with a wealth of experience working on issues important to Utah," Hatch said in a statement. "He has worked closely with the governor, the state Legislature and Utahns across the state — and shares my passion for the future of Utah."

Kennedy, a graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, spent seven years as a lobbyist in Washington, representing several Utah cities, water districts and the Utah Transit Agency. Kennedy is a former intern for Sen. Bob Bennett, for whom Kennedy's wife, Natalie, also worked before the couple moved back to Utah.

Johnson, a former Hatch intern who holds an MBA from George Washington University, made a meteoric rise in the senator's office after starting in 2002 as a legislative assistant and then moving up to legislative director within three years. He will have served about two years as chief of staff when he leaves his post.

Johnson previously headed the finance department for the 3,000-employee Corvis Corp. — now part of Level 3 Communications — after beginning as the start-up company's third employee.

Hatch praised Johnson as an excellent chief of staff and a dedicated servant to Utah.

"I will miss serving with Jace on a daily basis, but he will remain a close political adviser," Hatch said.

In other staff changes, Hatch also announced that his current legislative director, Chris Campbell, will take over as Republican staff director on the Senate Finance Committee, where Hatch will be the ranking Republican come January. Jay Khosla, Hatch's current health policy aide, will now serve as legislative director.

tburr@sltrib.com