Attorney General Craig Richards is expected to recommend a special investigator to Gov. Bill Walker in the next few weeks to look into years of allegations of sexual misconduct and cover-ups in the Alaska National Guard.
Administration spokeswoman Grace Jang said Richards has a short list of five candidates -- all attorneys in private practice with experience in criminal law -- from which to draw his recommendation. Walker would be free to pick someone else if he's unhappy with Richards' choice, Jang said.
The candidates didn't apply but were recommended by attorneys in the Department of Law's criminal division, Jang said. Some, but not all, are former prosecutors, she said.
Walker suggested before he took office that he would appoint a "special prosecutor" to look into National Guard allegations, but Jang said the administration now plans to call the outside appointee a special investigator. The difference is in the scope of work, she said. A prosecutor suggests that crimes have been committed, while an investigator would start out as a fact-finder who could recommend prosecutions or reforms.
In addition to looking into activity in the National Guard, Jang said, the special investigator will also be asked to look into the actions or inactions of state and local law enforcement agencies that received reports of sexual assaults but didn't bring cases to trial.
The investigator's report is expected to be on Walker's desk by summer, Jang said.
Meanwhile, Walker still hasn't decided whether to retain Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges as chief of the Alaska National Guard and commissioner of the Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, Jang said. Former Gov. Sean Parnell named Bridges acting adjutant general and acting commissioner after firing Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus in the aftermath of a scathing Pentagon report of sexual misconduct and failed leadership in the guard.
The Department of Law is also reviewing whether the Parnell administration's editing pen was overactive when it released scores of emails and other documents in response to a public records lawsuit by Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Public Media. Most of the significant documents had substantial portions blanked out, with the Parnell administration asserting executive privilege or "deliberative process" as the reason.
"They're looking whether things were overly redacted and was proper protocol followed," Jang said.