Governor defensive about hiring Craig Richards - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Governor defensive about hiring Craig Richards

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PRESS RELEASE ANTICIPATES CRITICISM

Governor Bill Walker announces the hiring of a new oil and gas cabinet position.

Governor Bill Walker announces the hiring of a new oil and gas cabinet position. He recently also rehired his former law partner and former attorney general, on contract.

In the strangest press release yet from the Walker Administration, Gov. Bill Walker goes to unusual lengths to argue that all is right and proper with the recent pop-up contract he told the Department of Law to sign with his former attorney general.

Strange, in that exactly one month ago, Assistant Attorney General Jim Cantor reported to Attorney General Craig Richards.

Now, Cantor is the interim AG, and Richards, who walked out on the job with just a few hours’ notice, reports to Cantor, or so the contract says.

Strange, in that the contract allows a significant amount of wiggle room for Richards to work on just about any duty he is assigned, for any amount of time, in a thoroughly adjustable arrangement:

richards contract

Governors don’t typically issue press releases when their Departments of Law sign contracts with attorneys. But this governor did because this is clearly different in scope and in appearance:

walker releases contract

SHADOW GOVERNMENT

Craig Richards, as a contractor for the state, has far more power and access than interim Attorney General Cantor. And pity the incoming attorney general, who by all reports is smart, capable, and honorable.

Jahna Lindemuth will discover that Richards has far more influence with the governor than she will have. From lawyers to clerks, the workforce of the Department of Law knows who is has the direct line to the governor: Richards.

Richards has privilege, access, and a longstanding business relationship with Walker. The two will continue to run the state uninterrupted, in the father-son, Batman-Robin relationship they’ve tilled over the years as partners.

But one of this duo, while representing the governor, is no longer a sworn officer of the state. He’s a free man, not bound by the same rules as Walker. Not bound by much at all.

The unique arrangement between Walker and Richards leaves the public even further shut out of their government, as work provided by a contractor like Richards is even tougher to access through public records requests.

Defying the promise of transparency that ushered him into office, Walker is building a parallel governing group, with consultants like Richards helping him run the show, and transparency officers like Grace Jang, Walker’s communications director, sinking deeper into the patterns of explaining away and covering up.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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