Craig Richards; screen shot from 360 North
Transparency in government is not turning out to be a Gov. Bill Walker “best practice.”
The latest intrigue involving former Attorney General Craig Richards is an example.
At least two Alaskans have been requesting copies of the contract that Richards quickly cobbled together with his old business partner, the governor, after Richards abruptly cleaned out his desk and hit the road on June 23, with about 8 hours notice.
One of those persons following the breadcrumbs on that contract, we are told, is Alaska Dispatch News Reporter Nathaniel Herz. The other is transparency advocate Andree McLeod.
Neither of them has made much progress getting their hands on the Richards’ contract with either the Governor’s Office or the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, where the rumors of the contracts are pointing.
Maybe that’s because there’s a third option. But that will take some digging because the Governor’s Office is making it more difficult than it needs to be.
Evidently, the “final contract” in question is over at the Department of Law. At least that’s the story McLeod has been given by Governor’s Office functionaries in a series of documents she shared with Must Read.
“What the hell?” McLeod said in a phone interview today. “If Jim Whittaker had a copy, he should send it to me. You’d think they could just forward it to me instead of having me go through all these hoops.”
Since early July, Richards has been representing the governor in different capacities with the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. Because of his ambiguous status, questions have been raised about who he is representing.
Governor Walker famously said his administration was watching pennies during a time of austerity. But after he brought on a new Attorney General, keeping the old one around raises questions about whether or not the new AG has what it takes to manage the complex deals that Gov. Walker is putting together with his plans for a state-owned gasline.
Richards, although recycled, is the second big-name person Walker has brought into the administration in the last few days. The other was John Hendrix, formerly a general manager with Apache Corp., who will serve in the Walker cabinet as his senior adviser on oil and gas.
That occurred just days after Walker appointed Andy Mack his new commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. While the Mack hiring raised eyebrows because of his inexperience with Alaska’s major revenue-generating industry, the hiring of Hendrix at more than $185,000 brought up even more questions, as he is filling the role of a brand new cabinet position, one that is normally filled by the DNR commissioner.
Last week, Walker repeated a story to the media about state employees he met in the elevator in the Atwood Building who were cleaning out their desks, and yet were profusely thanking him for doing the right thing by seizing more than half of Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends.
Those same state workers might be surprised to find out just where their paychecks are going, which might be to beef up the governor’s cabinet.