Alaska’s U.S. senators say they are outraged by misconduct by a federal judge whose nomination they supported

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

U.S. senators from Alaska say they are appalled by the behavior of former U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred, whom they recommended for the position.

Kindred resigned from his position on Monday, the same day the U.S. Bar Association released a document that found he had engaged in sexual harassment, sent vulgar messages to judicial clerks and repeatedly lied about his conduct.

The incident raises questions about how Kindred was selected.

Then-President Donald Trump nominated him in 2019 at the request of both U.S. senators. Senator Lisa Murkowski says she is disgusted and angry.

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

Kindred was not either senator’s first choice, but Senator Dan Sullivan did say there was no indication during the vetting process that Kindred had engaged in inappropriate behavior of this type.

“The idea that a federal judge would abuse his power in this way is disgusting to me. It’s outrageous and I hope the Bar will seek disbarment and if he broke any laws, he will be held accountable,” Sullivan said. “It’s disgusting — these are issues that I’ve fought against my entire career.”

For retired state Judge Elaine Andrews, the Kindred case is an example of what is wrong with the federal judicial selection system.

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

In a move to distract from politics, Alaska’s U.S. senators, starting with Ted Stevens, began asking the Alaska Bar Association to survey its members about federal judicial candidates. Kindred ranked 16th in the Bar’s survey of 20 candidates. Only 15 percent of respondents considered him exceptionally or well-qualified. Andrews says that was information that needed to be paid attention to.