WASHINGTON — Patricia Knight, chief of staff for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will leave government service at the end of the year, she told the senator Thursday.

Knight started as a volunteer in Hatch's office in 1993, a status that lasted only a few months before she started working on health-care policy. She has been his chief of staff since 1999 but has worked for the federal government since 1973.

"We will miss Trish terribly," Hatch said in a statement. "I know that this is the right time for her, after 34 years serving our country, and I know she will be successful as she moves

her career to the private sector."

Hatch said she has been his "right arm for many years" and that the Virginia native "has done more for the people of Utah and for this country than I think anyone will ever realize."

Knight disagreed with the phrase that she is retiring as she wants to do government consulting or some related work.

She based her decision to leave on the pending enactment of a new law that would bar her as a former Senate staffer from lobbying other Senate offices for a full year. Under current law, she would only be banned from lobbying Hatch's office for a year.

Knight feels the new law, designed to stop the so-called revolving door between congressional offices and lobbying shops, is a little unfair. She said it would limit her from talking to senators and their staff members whom she does not now know.

"It's not like I have a big influence with people I haven't met," Knight said.

Knight said she will miss Hatch's office and working with the people of the state.

"It's going to be different," she said. "I'll be coming at things from a different perspective."

Jace Johnson, Hatch's current legislative director, will become chief of staff, Hatch said.

Johnson and Knight have worked together on issues for several years and "he is well prepared to serve the people of Utah and the country," Hatch said.

"Trish has a reputation as one of the best senior legislative staff members on Capitol Hill. But those who know her well realize that she is the best on the Hill," Hatch said.

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