Alaska US senators say they’re disgusted by the misconduct of a federal judge whose nomination they supported

U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. (Alaska Public Media)

Alaska’s U.S. senators say they’re horrified by the behavior of former Alaska U.S. District Court judge Joshua Kindred, whom they recommended for the appointment.

Kindred resigned effective Monday, the same day a council of federal judges released a document finding he sexually harassed and sent vulgar messages to law clerks and repeatedly lied about his conduct.

The incident raises questions about how Kindred was selected.

Then-President Donald Trump nominated him in 2019, on the recommendation of both  U.S. senators. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’s disgusted and angry.

“I feel like he let me down, as one who had confidence in the process that we had gone through to put his name up to the White House,” Murkowski said. “He let me down. He let Alaskans down. He let the bench and the bar down.”

Kindred wasn’t either senators’ first choice, but Sen. Dan Sullivan says nothing in the vetting he did suggested misconduct of this type was in Kindred’s character.

“The idea that a federal judge would abuse his power in such a way, to me, is disgusting. It’s outrageous, and I hope the Bar [Association] moves to disbar him, and if he broke any laws that he’s held accountable,” Sullivan said. “Disgusting — these [are] issues I’ve been fighting against my whole professional career.”

For retired state judge Elaine Andrews, the Kindred matter illustrates what’s wrong with the federal system of selecting judges.

“There’s a big difference between the state and the federal courts, and in Alaska, we select people based on merit, and we let the public vote on them for retention based on their performance, and the federal system is completely different,” Andrews said. “It’s a political appointment.”

To make it a little less political, Alaska’s U.S. senators, starting with Ted Stevens, began asking the Alaska Bar Association to survey its members about candidates for the federal bench. Kindred came in 16th on the Bar poll, out of 20 candidates. Only 15% of respondents deemed him extremely or well qualified. Andrews says that was information that should’ve been heeded.

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