Walker picks law partner Richards to be state’s attorney general

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.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com



34 thoughts on “Walker picks law partner Richards to be state’s attorney general

  1. Crude is Rude - Gas is Groovy

    IMHO; Mr. Forecast is the guy who I’d follow if I was lost in the woods..

    The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was proof enough to me that TAPS has been shipping the wrong product for 40 years.

    If all you oily lawyers think you’re smart, click on my nickname and do some reading there, then report back to me with your answers on how to solve that kind of problem.

    …..greed is unfashionable, it makes you look ugly.

  2. joe

    Forecast is WRONG AGAIN with his facts. Obviously, Forecast hates the oil industy which is his perogative. The only problem I have with this guy is that his position is predicated on total emotion. He has zero facts to back his positions.

  3. AH HA

    @Bleary Eyed: As it stands, given his Lt Governor’s sensitivity to “Our Particular Circumstance” I suppose it would be more accurate to accuse him of Crony Socialism.

  4. Lynn Willis

    What misinformation ? Governor Parnell clearly violated the State Constitution, specifically Article 2, Section 5 which states: “During the term for which elected and for one year thereafter, no legislator may be nominated, elected, or appointed to any other office or position of profit which has been created, or the salary of emoluments of which have been increased, while he was a member.” The Governor’s actions to create a position for her were verified by Rep. Dahlstrom when she announced she would be leaving the legislature to accept this new position in the Parnell administration. The law was violated yet nobody was held accountable except for the Representative who was forced to resign her new job.
    How would you feel Jon, if Exxon or the Sierra Club had created a position for a sitting legislator? What makes allowing the Governor to do this more palatable to you? Creating a position for a sitting legislator is rightfully prohibited. This act on the part of the Governor deserved more than a caution from Dan Sullivan not to do it again.
    So, if not the A.G, who should have represented the “people” to protect us from that violation of the State Constitution?

  5. Jon K

    Show me the quotes – I just googled SB 21 and 1 million barrels. Nothing came up where Parnell said passage of this bill will lead to 1 million barrels. This is a Democratic talking point. People in his Administration did say that tax reform was part of a broader effort to get more oil into TAPS with the goal of reaching 1 million barrels. But nobody, to my knowledge, ever said, if you pass this bill, we will get 1 million barrels of oil per day.

  6. Thanks Jon K

    Thanks for setting Forecast straight. I’d also point out that according to the Department of Revenue the state lost $2.5 billion during the last year of ACES and am taking bets that Forecast’s IP address goes to Les Gara or Bill Wielechowski’s computer.

  7. Jon K

    Lynn, for the love of god, please stop spreading misinformation about Sullivan. How many times do we have to go over this?

  8. Jon K


    Go check out DOR’s website, there is a study detailing this. Go to the Commissioner’s page and click on the MAP act. You can also read the ISER reports, one issued by Goldsmith and the other by Berman. Or just use common sense. At today’s prices, ACES had a net profit tax of 25 percent tax plus a 20 percent capital credit plus generous deductions – every dollar Exxon, BP, Conoco spent at today’s prices reduced their tax bill by 45 percent.

    SB 21 has a 35 percent tax but it eliminated the 20 percent capital credit, although it does have credits tied to the oil produced and deductions associated with lease expenditures, which in turn lowers the effective rate.

    Bottom line once you look at the effective rate and the balance of the credits, SB 21 has a higher tax rate for the legacy producers at today’s prices. You need to get to $105 or so for ACES to bring in about the same revenue as SB 21. Once we get above $105, ACES starts to bring in more.

  9. Jon K


    1. There are no credits that allow the state’s take to drop to zero. The effective production tax rate is somewhere between 10 and 27 percent. The rate varies depending on the location of the field and the profitability of the oil. Most oil produced on the North Slope is subject to a 25 percent, or so, production tax. Newer fields are taxed at a lower rate, but are subjected to a higher royalty rate. The legacy fields generally have a 12.5 % royalty, while the newer fields generally have a 16.667% royalty — that is, the state gets 1/8 of production from the legacy fields, BEFORE TAXES, and we get 1/6 of production from newer fields. Moreover, when looking at the state’s take, you need to combine the production tax with royalties, property taxes, and corporate income taxes. Testimony before the legislature from outside consultants hired by the administration and by the legislature said the state walks away with the largest take of the pie.

    2. Yes they did. But, according to Dermott’s article, they said they were relying on DOR’s new, very conservatie production forecasts. These forecasts are out of date and will be updated soon. Moreover, we have a ton of new production on the horizon and more rigs coming to the slope. Time will tell, but it looks like we will see a decent bump in production over the next several years because of all of the work within the legacy fields, new developments being purused by Conoco, Exxon, BP, Hilcorp, Caelus, Brooks Range, and ENI.

    3. What is the maximum benefit – i.e., what is the state’s fair share?

    4. We have major problems associatd with the loss of heat. It is frightening. This isn’t a lie. Without more oil, there is a real threat that the pipeline cannot operate.

    5. Where does this $16.6 billion number come from? Does it include the federal government’s take? Is it net of all costs? Our share of the oil is the royalty we get – that is our ownership interest.

    6. What giveaway?

    7. Norway has had much higher levels of production when prices were high, and they kept an income tax, which explains why their have so much in savings.

    The Alaska Constitution requires the state to develop the resources for the benefit of the people. There is nothing in the constitution that says what the tax rate should be. At Statehood, the oil tax rate was 1 percent. It doubled to 2 percent after the flood. Were these tax regimes uncontsitutiona?

  10. Lynn Willis

    Eventually Alaska will realize the mistake our founders made by allowing the A.G. to be appointed and not elected. While the appointment option may occasionally produce a person with a “pure heart” who is motivated primarily to serve the public, it often results in the appointment of nothing more than a “consigliere” for the Governor.
    Perhaps this latest appointee will be a true advocate for Alaskans; however, our recent history has not been so inspiring. Recent appointees were seemingly motivated to first protect the boss who appointed them from political embarrassment (or worse) as appeared to be the case with Dan Sullivan regarding the creation of the state job for a sitting legislator followed by the refusal of Sullivan’s successor Michael Geraghty to pursue the National Guard investigation as a formal judicial inquiry/investigation. And what efforts were taken by the Office of the A.G. to focus efforts of the office of the A.G. on such matters as the five-year release of Sulfolane from the North Pole Refinery or the sole-source contract to refurbish Anchorage legislative office buildings at an exorbitant cost?

  11. Forecast

    Once again we need to get a few people up to speed on the facts:

    1. SB-21 has credits that allow the effective rate to drop to zero. This is free oil. Even if “new” production increased, its free oil. But….

    2. COP and XOM have both testified under OATH that TAPS production will NOT increase.

    3. The SB-21 versus ACES debate is a false dichotomy. What is really required is a system that ensures Alaskans get maximum benefit from the sale of our finite resources as the Constitution requires.

    4. Parnell used lies to push SB-21. Recall Parnell’s threat that TAPS would be shut down? That lie was chugging along until Craig Richards and Robin Brena exposed that lie by showing the value of the conventional oil left under the North Slope. Parnell was caught and had tom come up with a new pitch.

    5. Alaska now has a $3 billion dollar budget deficit. We will consume all our savings built up under ACES in the next 3 to 4 years. Our entire economy is on the verge of collapse because we are giving away our oil, and spending too much. $16.6 billion worth of oil is being taken right now, per year- we only get $3 billion and WE OWN the oil.

    6. How many Alaskans are willing to lose their dividends and have both an income tax and a sales tax to subsidize the giving away of our oil?

    7. Norway does not give away its oil- and they have $900 billion in their permanent fund.

    How come when Alaskans come together to defend the Constitution they “hate” the global corporations, but when the global corporations defend their interests/profits, they are not labeled as “haters of Alaskans”?

  12. Charlton Heston is My President

    @Simply. Your comments seem to be indicative of an astonishingly flimsy understanding of Dan Sullivan’s credentials and Craig Richard’s qualifications.

  13. Anonymous

    I`m calling BS on you Jon K. Parnell spoke many times at the beginning of “a million barrels a day”… google his name and “million barrels” and see what you find. The extortion and fear worked and resulted in BS21. That`s a big reason Parnell lost. The CBC club is next..

  14. Anonymous

    All Alaskans benefited by about $2 billion in additional revenues on the
    TAPS valuation cases over the last 10 years. Thank you Mr. Richards. Sounds like a good pick to me. That sounds like a pretty good number in the right direction to me,.. We need these gas and tax savvy Alaskans at the table fighting for us. If we trust Bill enough to put him up as Governor,.. we need to trust his judgement at picking his team.
    This article is two years old but applicable. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-23/alaska-sees-asia-driving-annual-20-billion-via-pipeline.html Let`s get er` done… and think positive for a change..

  15. Joe

    It’s great that Walker is choosing a longtime Alaskan with Alaska’s interests at heart. Never heard that when Palin picked a carpetbagger named Sullivan for the job. I keep hearing that SB 21 is bringing in more revenue than ACES did. What is the source for these claims? Please no more press releases from Conoco Phillips etc. presented as facts.

  16. bleary eyed

    Luckily for Bill he’s no longer registered as a republican, otherwise hiring your business partner to be your AG might come with criticisms of crony capitalism.

  17. Jon K

    Birch – we are off to a great start!

    But for the record, Sean never said SB 21, by itself, would lead a millions per day. Les Gara and Bill W. are the ones that spread this falsehood.

    The gov’s claim was that the law would help spur activity and bring new companies to the state, which would provide economic opportunity and create a more sustainable future. The 1 million barrel a day goal was part of 5 part strategy to get more oil into TAPS – the white paper is on DNR’s website, you should read it. Tax reform was a critical component, but another critical piece was getting access to federal lands. Nobody from the administration ever said we would get 1 million barrels from state lands – we needed OCS, NPRA, and ANWR open to exploration and development. Another aspect was more infrastructure and permitting reform.

    Anyway, it would be really nice if Les and others would stop misleading Alaskans on this point – nobody said SB 21 alone would result in 1 million barrels per day.

  18. birchstick

    Jon, the biggest claim was by Sean and the Legislature themselves, by calling it the “More Alaska PRODUCTION Act.” Time will tell if this turns around, but I think we could agree that 1M barrels a day seems a far stretch now. Thanks.

  19. DB

    I sense a trend of the blame game going on with the new administration. Could this be similar to President Obama’s blaming George W. for the first 2 to 3 years of his Administration? God, I hope not. BTW, Gov-elect Walker needs to submit his contract terms and remuneration with the city of Valdez since the beginning of the contract. Full transparency-or will he hide behind the lawyer-client privilege?

  20. Nothing to see here

    Nice opportunity to pay the next governor and AG for something that’s hard to value. Presumably the “transparency” ideal will fully apply to the purchase terms for their law practice.

  21. Jon K

    Not only are we getting more revenue than we would have under ACES, but there has been an explosion of activity on the North slope, which means more jobs, more drilling, more production, more competition, and a more sustainable future.

    It is really remarkable how wrong the leaders of the Yes on 1 crowd were on their 3 main claims – there was no billion dollar giveaway, the law doesn’t deter exploration, nor does it scare away the independents.

  22. Alex

    Forecast, your post is dead wrong. The only “giveaway” would have been the hundreds of millions Alaska would be losing if we’d repealed SB21 and gone back to ACES. Thank God voters could see through the whole giveaway myth and make the right choice to keep tax reform. You might want to drop the taking points, Forecast, do some reading and update yourself on the situation. You could not be more inaccurate.

  23. Max59

    Congrats to my friend Guy Bell. Your dedication to public service is an example I point to. Good luck to the Walker – Mallott administration. Pleased to see Mark Meyers back at DNR too.
    There has been some criticism of certain appointees and lingering negative comments. Let’s allow our new governor the latitude to put together the individuals he wants for his team and wish them all well.

  24. The Economist

    It seems that so very many of Walker’s supporters are clueless to the reality of “fact.” Like or dislike SB 21, the fact is that the state is getting more money since the implementation of SB 21 than they would have gotten under ACES. So to suggest that SB 21 is somehow responsible for the $3 billion deficit is ludicrous. ACES would have been a far greater giveaway than SB 21.

    The culture of hate associated with Walker’s supporters is also very disturbing. They seem to continue to hate Parnell, his administration and the good he accomplished in 4 years. The seem to hate oil companies so much they are unwilling to recognize the truth. Also, somehow these same people feel that Senator-elect Sullivan is an evil space alien from the planet Ohio. Lf Walker and his appointees are near as hateful as many of his supporters, Alaska is in big trouble.

    I’m very concerned about the state’s future, the lack of understanding of our state’s economy and the rumored vendetta that Walker, Richards and Brenna is presumed to have against Big Oil.

    I’ll go out on a limb and say that you’re probably better off today than you will be in 4 years. I hope so much that I’m wrong. However, I don’t see how you create jobs and build an economy on hate. Good luck Mr Walker and all your appointees. There are many Alaskans who don’t hate Big Oil, space aliens from the planet known as Ohio, or Sean Parnell. Also, the continuing hatred over SB 21 needs to be let go of. Right now, all Alaskans are much better off because of SB 21. The revenue the state is getting is greater, the recent lease sale was the biggest in over 2 decades and record employment and activity is taking place on the North Slope. So, the idiots that talk about the “giveaway” and how bad SB 21 is just don’t get it. The facts suggest otherwise.

  25. Simply Amazed

    Critics of Craig Richards appointment as Attorney General might remember the astonishingly flimsy credentials of a certain Mr. Sullivan who served briefly as Attorney General under Governor Parnell. Does anyone remember the tune and lyrics to Gilbert and Sullivan’s great song “The Ruler of the Queen’s Navy?” These changes look hopeful to me!

  26. Forecast

    An outstanding pick. Gov. Elect Bill Walker is assembling people with exceptional talent and integrity. Mark Myers is without a doubt the most knowledgeable, and intelligent DNR commissioner Alaska has ever had. Same goes for Craig Richards. Robin Brena nailed it. Craig is a smart highly capable attorney who has been responsible for saving Alaskans more than $2 billion dollars over the years he has defended the TAPS valuation.

    That Craig was opposed to the train wreck that is SB-21 speaks to his desire to uphold the Alaska Constitution which holds that Alaska’s natural resources are to be developed for the maximum benefit of all Alaskans. At $80 ANS crude and a TAPS throughput of 550,000 barrels per day $16.6 billion dollars is being stripped from Alaska per year. Alaskans- the owners of the oil- only receive about $3 billion for this oil, per year.

    How about that?

    And with a $3 billion dollar budget deficit caused directly by the giveaway of our oil, Alaskans would have to give up their dividends, and have both an income tax and a sales tax to balance the budget. The legislators that passed SB-21 need to tell Alaskans what their plan is… As Brad Keithly pointed out recently the plan the legislature has imposed on Alaska will result in a severe recession as the savings built up under ACES are used up to pay for the deficits Parnell and the legislature created.

    Thumbs up to Both Craig and Pat Pitney for volunteering to serve. Alaskans need the very best… and Bill Walker is delivering.

  27. Concerned

    Craig is very smart. He is also lazy. He told folks recently that while Walker was an outspoken critic of AK LNG, he and Walker never read the enabling legislation, nor did they read the agreements. If true, you gotta admire his honesty in admitting this, but it is also deeply disturbing.

    It doesn’t look like he has any experience on a wide array of issues – tribal sovereignty, subsistence, criminal law, land management, fish and game, etc – and he doesn’t appear to have a clue about how state government functions or how to run a state agency of 500 or so lawyers.

    I’m not sure what is a bigger concern – his inexperience or the lack of independence from his boss.

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