Craig Richards, governor’s newest contractor



Craig Richards
Craig Richards

Craig Richards was Alaska’s attorney general one minute, and gone the next.

Citing personal reasons, on June 23 Richards simply threw the proverbial keys on the desk and walked out on the Department of Law. For an attorney general, it was the mic drop of the year.

Here’s the man who was Gov. Bill Walker’s point person on oil tax reform. He was the man in charge of shepherding Walker’s signature legislation, the New Sustainable Alaska Plan (New-SAP), which had a combination of taxes, taxes, Permanent Fund restructuring and, did we mention, taxes. He was, according to insider Bruce Botelho, the governor’s closest adviser, outside of Gov. Walker’s wife, Donna.

“There is no daylight between Gov. Walker and Craig Richards,” we were told by someone close to the Administration — too close to go on the record. “They are very, very close.”

Richards walked out on the State, but evidently didn’t walk out on the governor.

Insiders last month speculated that Richards would pop up over at Robin Brena’s law firm (Brena bought out Walker and Richards in November, 2014), and go back to his bread and butter of oil and gas litigation.

But others predicted he’d be working on contract for Gov. Walker sooner rather than later. After all, the governor indicated we’d see more of Richards. In announcing Richards’ departure, Walker said, “Given Craig’s knowledge of gasline issues, I’m certain the state will continue to benefit from his oil and gas expertise as we push toward completion of a project.”

Must Read Alaska learned that Richards hit the ground running as a consultant. He has been seen at the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, making the rounds as the new representative for Walker.

The last big-dollar lawyer-consultant in that role was Rigdon Boykin, of South Carolina, an old colleague of Walker’s during the failed Alaska Gasline Port Authority days. Boykin pulled down $120,000 a month from the Governor’s Office and AGDC coffers, in a combined contractual arrangement that few could understand. Public pressure made it too uncomfortable for the governor to continue arguing that Alaska was in a fiscal crisis. He had to cut Boykin loose.

What will Richards do for Walker? He’ll likely work in the same portfolio he worked in while Attorney General: Advise, counsel, direct, and defend. How much will he earn? That will take a records request, and we’ll get right on it.

There’s every possibility Richards will help manage the defaulting of Prudhoe Bay leases as a consultant, rather than as the state’s top lawman; his replacement at the Department of Law has no experience in oil and gas, and the new commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources is also green.

A letter of default was issued to BP on June 30 by Corri Feige, the director of the Division of Oil and Gas. The letter was part of a series of events that led to the resignation of former DNR Commissioner Marty Rutherford, who also left the Walker Administration at the end of June.