Bill would restrict attorney general’s appointment to boards

JUNEAU — A bill introduced in the Alaska House on Monday seeks to restrict the attorney general from serving on the governing body of a state public corporation or on state boards or commissions.

The bill’s stated intent is to keep the attorney general from “being compromised” or having a conflict of interest or the appearance of one when representing the state’s interest in legal proceedings in which the corporation, board or commission is a party.

It was introduced by House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski. He said the attorney general should be representing the citizens of the state, not boards or commissions. The bill is not meant to be a jab at Gov. Bill Walker, he said.

In a statement, Walker said preventing attorneys general from serving on boards and commissions would deprive those bodies of an attorney general’s insight and counsel. It would be a “dramatic departure from the long-standing practice intended to ensure those bodies have essential expertise and perspective appropriate to their responsibilities,” Walker said.

The bill requests that Attorney General Craig Richards be replaced as an Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board member. The bill states that the request is made to allow the attorney general to concentrate “time, efforts and focus on representing the state’s interest in civil and criminal litigation and providing legal advice to state entities.”

The permanent fund is a centerpiece of a Walker administration proposal that Richards helped develop to restructure funding of state government. That proposal is being reviewed by legislators. Walker appointed Richards to the board last year.

Walker said the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. has a long history of attorneys general serving on its board.

The bill is HB 287.

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