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Stevens Aide Sutherland to Leave Senate

Lisa Sutherland said Friday that she will step down in several weeks as minority staff director of the Senate Commerce Committee, ending a direct working relationship with Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that began with an internship in 1977.

Sutherland said that after she leaves in early March, she will continue as an outside adviser to Stevens while pursuing private business interests that are still taking shape.

“I am going to work with Sen. Stevens as a kind of political adviser and may do a few other things, as well. Those have yet to be determined,” she added. “I have not talked to anybody. I have an interest in doing some business issues completely unrelated to Congress.”

Sutherland, who got a full-time job with Stevens in 1981, had a key role in drafting last year’s major telecommunications bill, which never reached the Senate floor because Democrats complained that it lacked strong Internet-nondiscrimination language.

Sutherland said she isn't leaving the Senate because Democrats took control as a result of the 2006 elections.

“This is something that doesn’t have anything to do with us Republicans losing the majority. This is something I’ve been actually thinking about for a while, and it is completely unrelated to the election,” she added.

She declined to discuss her replacement. “I think I’ll leave that to Sen. Stevens to announce,” she said.