Gov.-elect Bill Walker announced four more appointments today. (Read the full release with bios below.) Pat Pitney will be the director of the Office of Management and Budget; he’ll retain Guy Bell as director of administrative services for the office of the governor and will also retain Department of Public Safety Commissioner Gary Folger.
Pending confirmation by two-thirds of the Legislature, the state’s new attorney general will be Craig Richards. Richards is Walker’s law partner. He was born and raised in Fairbanks, has a law degree from Washington & Lee University and an MBA from Duke University. He clerked for U. S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline, and was an associate at Wohlforth, Vassar, Johnson & Brecht in Anchorage before joining what later became Walker Richards. (The law firm, where Walker’s wife Donna and his daughter also work, is for sale. The firm’s website was dark on Tuesday.)
In the press release, Richards said that he will review as soon as possible Alaska’s appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s decision that forced that state to recognize gay marriage, and the National Guard issue.
“I also look forward to utilizing my experience in finance, natural resource development, and taxation to support Governor Walker as the state gets to work on these and many other important issues.” Richards said.
Since joining Walker Richards, he’s been highly involved in oil and gas issues, representing municipalities against Alaska’s big producers. He’s considered extremely bright. Local lawyer Robin Brena, who has been both with and against him on cases, described him as a “rock solid attorney” who is “smart and quick on the uptake.” Most importantly Richards has Alaska’s best interest at heart, Brena said.
However, that he appears to have spent the majority of his career in Alaska fighting against the oil companies, and that he has been so close to the governor, might cause him some issues come confirmation time. Although the AG is hand-picked by the governor, he is also the people’s lawyer and must keep an eye on the governor’s office to make sure that all laws are followed.
But what also might make his nomination rocky is that he’s been a vocal critic of two recent major bills passed by the Legislature: SB 21, or the oil tax bill, and HB 4, the legislation that created the process by which a natural gas bullet line would be constructed.
“I can guarantee that all these issue will come up if they get to confirmation,” House Speaker Mike Chenault said when reached on the phone Tuesday night.
Here’s a video of Richards talking about the natural gas pipeline at the LNG conference in Valdez in 2012:
Here is the press release in full:
Governor-elect Bill Walker is pleased to announce four additional appointments today. He first announced his appointment of Pat Pitney as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Pitney has extensive experience with operating and capital budget development.
Pitney most recently served as vice chancellor for administrative services at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and vice president of finance for the University of the Arctic, a network of universities and organizations across the eight Arctic Nations. She has 23 years of experience within the University of Alaska system, including her time as the vice president for planning and budget.
“I am thrilled that Pat will be joining the team,” Walker said. “After Karen Rehfeld announced her retirement, we knew finding a replacement would be critical. We thank Karen for her years of dedicated service and welcome Pat to the Walker Mallott administration.”
Pitney holds a MBA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a bachelor degree from Murray State University. In 2013, Pitney was inducted into the USA Shooting Hall of Fame after winning a gold medal. She was also selected to represent the United States for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games torch run to the North Pole.
Walker will appoint Craig Richards as the state’s Attorney General. Richards is a lifelong Alaskan, originally from Fairbanks. He holds a juris doctorate from Washington and Lee University, an MBA from Duke University, and a finance degree from the University of Virginia.
Mr. Richards’ law practice has centered on areas now critical to the state such natural gas project development, finance, taxation, and oil and gas leasing.
Walker said of the appointment:
“I have worked alongside Craig Richards for more than a decade. I trust his judgment and admire his ability to quickly and thoroughly analyze complex legal issues. He will be a strong addition to my administration.”
Richards recognized the full agenda that awaits him as attorney general: “I am honored by this appointment and will begin reviewing Hamby v. Parnell as well as the National Guard investigation as soon as that information is made available to my office. I also look forward to utilizing my experience in finance, natural resource development, and taxation to support Governor Walker as the state gets to work on these and many other important issues.”
Governor-elect Walker announced the retention of Guy Bell as director of administrative services for the office of the governor. Bell’s extensive experience with state finance began in 1982.
“I’m deeply impressed with Guy’s extensive knowledge of the state’s fiscal situation,” Walker said. “He has been a tremendous asset to the state, and I’m confident he will continue to provide steadfastly reliable counsel as we tackle this budget deficit.”
Governor-elect Walker’s final announcement was the retention of the Department of Public Safety Commissioner Gary Folger. Folger is proud to be an Athabascan and a lifelong Alaskan. His law enforcement career began in 1979 as a state fish and wildlife aide in Cantwell and continued for more than 30 years with the Alaska State Troopers.
“I’m pleased Gary will continue to serve the state of Alaska as the public safety commissioner,” Walker said. “His dedication to public service has been a great asset to the state.”
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