Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Chairman Hollis French was released from his duties immediately today, as Gov. Michael Dunleavy decided that French’s chronic absences were cause for dismissal.
A personnel hearing was held earlier this month, and during the testimony, his coworkers relayed that French spent very little time at the office, and seemed disinterested in the work when he was in attendance.
The personnel hearing officer forwarded the findings to the governor and he issued his decision this evening.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy had earlier placed French on administrative leave, with pay. Not all of the charges against French were found to have merit, but there were enough that the governor had to decide if he should simply dismiss him.
In the hearing officer’s report, he said the commission’s work was not delayed or affected in any material way because the other commissioners chose to cover for French by doing his work for him.
“While the notes/journal/diary contain some errors, the document presents substantial evidence that the overall pattern of Commissioner French’ s presence in the offices of AGOCC was perennially and significantly less than a full day. Leave slips did not account for these absences, which were more norm than the exception,” the report said.
French is a former legislator who ran for lieutenant governor as the running mate to Democrat Byron Mallott in 2014. After the primary election, Mallott and Bill Walker formed up a ticket with Walker as the gubernatorial candidate and Mallott as his running mate. French was forced out by the Democratic Party, which went on to support what was called a “unity ticket.” French was likely offered the lucrative job at the AOGCC as a reward for dropping off of the ticket, political observers concluded.