There is some correlation between political contributions to Butch Otter's campaign and survival as an agency director under Gov Risch. Maybe Risch did talk to Otter about his appointments.
I looked over contributions to Otter's campaign, and saw donors I recognized. I did not check all agency heads so I don't know how well donations equal political survival, but I did see some interesting contributions.
Roger Madsen, reappointed as head of Dept of Comerce & Labor, gave Otter $100 on 15 March. Pat Takasugi, who was widely rumored to be on the chopping block but was reappointed as head of Dept of Agriculture, gave Otter $100 on 14 March, 19 April, and 27 April, total of $300. Pam Ahrens, reappointed as head of Dept of Administration, gave Otter $750 on 3 March.
Carolyn Terteling gave Otter $100 on 12 April, and a Carolyn Terteling-Payne replaced Ann Heilman as head of Dept of Human resources.
I didn't see any donations from sacked Director Karl Kurtz or Ann Heilman. I didn't really check for donations from everyone who was retained or non-retained, just looked for names I recognized.
I did not see donations from Ms. Hardesty, retained as head of DEQ, or from Larry LaFrenz, retained as state Adjutant General.
Were I an agency head, I think I'd spread a little cash around. Doesn't seem to hurt.