A commissioner designee resigned Thursday evening after his resume came into question earlier in the day.
John Quick, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s choice for Department of Administration commissioner, submitted his resignation Thursday, according to a press conference from Dunleavy’s office.
Dunleavy appointed Paula Vrana as acting commissioner of Administration, according to the governor’s announcement. Vrana is an attorney who joined the Department of Administration on Jan. 2, according to a letter from Dunleavy to Department of Administration employees.
One of the registered owners of Anthem Coffee & Tea/Elements Frozen Yogurt, Janie Reynolds, wrote a letter to the Alaska Senate Joint Finance and State Affairs Committee stating that Quick never had any ownership in the business. The Washington State Department of Revenue website lists Reynolds as the co-owner, along with Larry Reynolds.
The letter, which is dated Jan. 23, states that Quick was hired in July 2011 to “organize and structure” the business. Reynolds wrote that Quick was only with the company for a year as an employee and repeatedly asked for Reynolds to sign a contract that would make Quick a part owner. Reynolds denied each time, she wrote in the letter.
“After many months of promises to organize and bring structure to our company, we fired him in June 2012,” Reynolds wrote in the letter. “John never had any percentage of ownership. He had hopes of being part of the ownership structure, and would verbalize it as his reality.”
Quick issued a response to Reynolds’ letter, sending a note of his own to the Alaska Senate Joint Finance and State Affairs Committee. In the letter, Quick explained that he entered into a verbal agreement with the Reynolds family in 2011. Quick wrote that he and the Reynolds family created Anthem Coffee & Tea/Elements Frozen Yogurt.
“As the businesses grew, it became clear that the verbal agreement I entered into was not going to materialize into a written agreement,” Quick wrote in his letter. “After numerous negotiations with the Reynolds family and much heartache for me and my family, we parted ways.”
Along with his letter, Quick attached scans of newspaper articles about him and Bryan Reynolds (Jamie’s son) starting the business.
Dunleavy Press Secretary Matt Shuckerow provided the letter and a brief statement to media members.
“We are looking forward to Commissioner Quick’s confirmation and his continued work on behalf of Alaskans,” Shuckerow said in the statement.
The Department of Administration’s roles include administrative services in matters of finance, personnel, labor relations, property management, retirement and benefits programs, information and telecommunications systems, and more.
Tuesday’s hearing was not to confirm Quick, but was to do an interview with him on the record. The members of the joint committee wrote up a report afterward, but the committee members do not make recommendations, Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka (chair of the Senate Finance Committee) said after the meeting. The House and Senate must both approve of a designee to confirm them as commissioner.
During Tuesday’s confirmation hearing in front of the joint committee, senators asked him a variety of questions about his resume and his experience as a business owner. Quick was most recently the Kenai Borough’s chief of staff.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, asked two questions about Quick’s resume. The final one was specifically about Anthem Coffee & Tea, asking when Quick sold the company and to whom he sold it.
“That was in 2014, I believe,” Quick said, taking a few moments to recall the exact year. “The other party’s a private party and probably doesn’t want to be spoken about in a public setting. It’s a friend from high school.”
Reynolds stated in her letter that she and Larry (her husband) have always been the only owners of the company. Reynolds wrote that the private party Quick spoke of is “fictitious.”
In his letter, Quick wrote that he was incorrect when he said 2014 at the hearing. He said he should have clarified to Wielechowski that he parted ways with the company instead of accepting Wielechowski’s terminology that he sold the company.
Quick’s resume also lists him as an owner or co-owner of three other businesses. One is the Guild Co-Working Space, based in Tacoma, Washington. The Washington State Department of Revenue lists that business as We Are Guild LLC, with Quick co-owning it with Jacob Moroshan.
Another business on his resume is an e-commerce supplement-selling company called Island Vibrance. The website islandvibrance.com no longer exists, but posts from public relations firm PRReach in 2015 state that the company sold vitamins and minerals.
“We had proprietary supplements, whether it be vitamins or other things of that nature and we, at the time, were one of the top-selling supplements companies on Amazon,” Quick said in response.
Sen. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, asked Quick how his experience as a small business owner would help him. Kawasaki pointed out that the Department of Administration is a tall task, having a budget of $340 million and overseeing a number of other smaller divisions.
“I think part of the experience of starting a business and owning a business is figuring out how to do it on the ground running,” Quick said as part of his response. “That experience, I think, lends itself to, ‘What does it look like to become a small business owner and entrepreneur?’”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Homer News editor and reporter Michael Armstrong contributed to this report.