Update: Quick has resigned his position.
Update: The following statement was released by John Quick in response to some of today’s allegations. The statement does not, however, address the reports he misrepresented his education on his resume.
Commissioner designee John Quick releases a letter explaining how “incorrect information” was stated at his confirmation hearing. Sounds like the governor is sticking by him. #akleg pic.twitter.com/VPyQcxiYb4
— Sean Maguire (@SeanBMaguire) January 25, 2019
Original: The Senate Finance Committee and Senate State Affairs Committees didn’t take public testimony during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing of Department of Administration Commissioner-appointee John Quick, and now that appears to be a mistake.
A letter sent to the committees, a copy of which was provided to The Midnight Sun, accuses Quick of fabricating just about everything relating to his ownership and involvement with a coffee shop and frozen yogurt store in Puyallup, Wash. A separate inquiry into his education also casts doubt on his claims of having an MBA.
Quick listed both Anthem Coffee & Tea and Elements Frozen Yogurt on the resume he provided to the committee, claiming that he “conceptualized and developed business plans for launching two separate small businesses” as well as as hired and trained employees, recruited investors and even curated “interior design/branding for all locations.”
His experience with both featured heavily in his testimony as he made the case to oversee the Department of Administration, which includes many varied government duties. Without taking public testimony, the committee advanced his nomination and it would take 31 votes of the combined Legislature to confirm him.
Here’s the opening line of the letter sent by Janie Reynolds, the co-owner of both businesses:
“I am Janie Reynolds, 50% owner of Anthem Coffee & Tea and Elements Frozen Yogurt. My husband, Larry Reynolds, owns the other 50%. There has never been anyone else except my husband and me on the ownership structure,” the letter, which was addressed to senators on both committees and dated on Wednesday, says.
Attempts to reach Janie Reynolds to confirm the authenticity of the letter were met with a text message statement sent to multiple reporters:
“Hello – This is Janie Reynolds. I sincerely thank you for reaching out today with further questions. I came forward with a statement to the senator due to a legislative aid calling me about a reference check on John Quick. I do not want to speak on our experience with John Quick. It was important to me to address his testimony at the hearing, and the claims on his resume. That is all I wish to say. Thank you.”
Details of her letter match public documents and a 2015 newspaper report. Reynolds’ letter confirms that Quick was involved with the businesses, but it doesn’t sound like the relationship went particularly smoothly according to her letter:
“I would like to make it known that John Quick was hired in July 2011 to organize and structure our small family business. His degree in business and our understanding that he earned an MBA qualified him for this position. He was a W2 employee at our company,” she wrote. “After many months of promises to organize and bring structure [to] our company, we fired him in June 2012. John never had any percentage of ownership. He had hopes of being part of the ownership structure, and would verbalize it as his reality. Several times during his year with us, he would ask, almost insist, that I sign a contract that would put him into part-ownership. I declined each time.”
According to a report by Alaska’s Energy Desk, Quick’s claims of his education are also suspect. According to the report, Wayland Baptist University in Texas has no record that he graduated and received the MBA degree he claimed on his resume (He claimed he attend for two years, but the report says he attended for just nine months).
Quick’s resume doesn’t specifically say he was an owner or investor in either Anthem or Elements, but his testimony to the committee indicated that he was, such as the following interaction between Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, and Quick:
Wielechowski: When did you sell your ownership interest in Anthem Coffee and Tea and Elements Frozen Yogurt? And who were your co-investors in that business?
Quick: Thank you Senator, good question. That was in 2000—I believe—14. The other party’s a private party and probably does not want to be spoken about it a public setting, but it’s a friend from high school.
Again, that specific line of testimony was disputed in Reynolds’ letter to the committees.
“I would like to make it known that Larry and Janie Reynolds have been the only owners of Anthem Coffee & Tea and Elements Frozen Yogurt. No one else has had any percentage of ownership. The ‘private party’ he speaks of is fictitious,” Janie Reynolds explained.
She also disputed the characterization of his involvement with the launch of the two businesses:
“The concept and business plan were already in operation since 2006 when we opened our first coffee shop. We modified the concept and plan to fit our yogurt shop which opened in 2011. John may have been a voice in suggestion and direction, but he did not conceptualize or develop the business plan.”
The same went for his claims that he helped with investment.
“This is a false statement,” Reynolds wrote. “No one invested in our company. All capital sources were applied for and secured by me.”
She took issue with Quick’s claim that he offered health plans as a small business owner, a move that seemed to impress the senators.
“If John is referring to his time with Anthem Coffee & Tea, this is not correct. Health plans were not offered to our staff until 2018,” she wrote.
According to the 2015 newspaper profile of the business and materials posted on Anthem’s website, the company has prided itself as a family-owned and family-run operation. In a video produced by Bryan Reynolds, the son of Janie and Larry, he asks the couple why they opened the coffee shop in the first place.
“It was you,” Janie Reynolds says to her son.
“Well, it was you and Alicia,” said a grinning Larry Reynolds, referring to Bryan’s wife.
A search of records does show Quick was a co-owner of businesses—a co-working space in Tacoma and an online supplements company—that are both closed, unlike Anthem Coffee & Tea, which now boasts several locations, and Elements Frozen Yogurt.
“Thank you for taking the time to read my statement,” Janie Reynolds finished the letter addressed to senators, “and for allowing me to present the truth in this most important manner.”
Why it matters
Mistakes in the vetting process for appointees isn’t new as we’ve seen with Gov. Bill Walker’s attempts to appoint Jeff Landfield to the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct and his selection of Tom Braund to the Alaska Senate. Both revealed blind spots in the vetting system, embarrassing both the administration and the appointees themselves in the process. Both cases, however, dealt with sometimes-hard-to-find social media posts (on opposite ends of the severity spectrum, we should add) and not outright falsehoods about employment and education.
However, Quick has already been on the job for more than a month and the gaps in his resume are fundamental and easy-to-check.
It was a simple call to the owners of the businesses he claimed to own, as well as a call to the registrar’s office that revealed several glaring falsehoods in Quick’s resume. Either alone should be enough to disqualify him from the position, and it should call into question the vetting process the Dunleavy administration is putting to use.
The Dunleavy administration has yet to make a public comment about today’s revelations.