Federal judge Joshua Kindred, a Trump appointee, has issued an order that is not likely to please some conservatives.
Judge Kindred ordered Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s press office to treat political writer, candidate, campaign manager, and unofficial lobbyist Jeff Landfield as a member of the media, including notifying him of all news conferences the governor has. At least on a temporary basis, until the case is heard in full.
Kindred wrote in his order that Landfield was likely to prevail in the suit against the governor, who has not been inviting the blogger to press conferences, or who has not taken questions from him when he shows up uninvited. Kindred said it is in the public interest that bloggers like Landfield are given adequate notice so they may attend press conferences, and that Landfield had previously been on the notification list, therefore it was no trouble for the Governor’s Office to restore him to that list.
Unanswered is whether the governor must take questions from someone who is not only a political writer, but who runs campaigns for candidates, is a candidate himself, and serves as a secret surrogate for certain lobbyists. Governors in the past have not taken questions from those who are not part of the media. At times, Democratic lawmakers used to crash press conferences of Gov. Sean Parnell and attempt to ask questions of him in front of reporters, which he refused to answer, telling them that they were not members of the press.
Creating an order that demands a governor must take questions from people may infringe upon his own free speech rights. Kindred’s order does not go that far, however, but it may mean an end to traditional press conferences and a return to Facebook town hall-style meetings for a while, a move that would bring loud braying from the legacy media.
Judge Kindred is the son-in-law of the late Sen. Chris Birch.