Dunleavy pick for administration commissioner loses his job quick

John Quick, a cabinet appointee with a thin background who engaged in some resume enhancement, resigned under pressure Thursday night.

Quick, who called himself a “serial entrepreneur,” had made much of his claim that he was a co-owner of small coffee and yogurt businesses in the Seattle area.

But it seems clear now that Tuckerman Babcock, chief of staff for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, didn’t have anyone check Quick’s background. It’s likely that the governor’s office told Quick that he had to go.

After Quick’s testimony to the Senate Finance Committee this week, Janie Reynolds of Puyallup, Wash., wrote senators that Quick was never a co-owner of Anthem Coffee & Tea and Elements Frozen Yogurt.

“He was a W2 employee at our company. 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,” she wrote.

Quick has claimed that he was a co-owner of the businesses in various interviews and documents over the years.

“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,” she said.

Reynolds said that she and her husband, Larry Reynolds, “have been the only owners of Anthem Coffee & Tea and Elements Frozen Yogurt. No one else has had any percentage of ownership,” she said.

Quick earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwest University in 2005, a small Christian college near Seattle.

In the alumni magazine in 2012, he said he “co-owns and is the COO of three businesses that have four locations: Anthem Coffee and Tea, Elements Frozen Yogurt, and Joeseppis On the Go!”

After the letter from Reynolds became public Thursday, Dunleavy’s spokesman told reporters the governor still supported Quick, but hours later he reversed course and said the resignation was for the best.

As a bit of damage control earlier in the day, Quick sent a letter in which he apologized to legislators and claimed he misspoke when he said he was a co-owner and that he had sold his interest in the business in 2014. He had a handshake agreement with the son of Janie and Larry Reynolds.

As the Associated Press put it, “he had entered into a verbal equity-stake venture that didn't materialize into a written agreement, leading to his departure.”

None of this explained what appears to be a disturbing pattern on his part of not telling the truth in some cases or exaggerating his record in others.

He had nothing to sell when he got out of the business, so this is not the kind of thing about which someone accidentally says the wrong thing during a legislative hearing.

He was asked at the hearing when he sold his interest. “Good question, that was I believe 2014.”

It was a good question. That was not a good answer.

He was also asked how his experience as a co-owner of the three businesses would influence his running of the administration department. He said that was a great question, but he also did not explain that he was not a co-owner, but an employee.

The Republican Party blog first claimed that this was a setup by Democrats to trap Quick and portrayed him as a victim of a media conspiracy and smear campaign.

Of course, Quick always had the option of giving straightforward answers.

Quick attended Wayland Baptist University for nine months in 2008, but didn’t get a degree. However, he wrote on a “branding” website that he attended Wayland from 2008-2012 and received a master’s degree in 2012. He also repeated the assertion that he was “co-owner of three successful brands in the Tacoma area.”

In 2015, he wrote, “With over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector, he was responsible for fundraising, overseeing multi-million dollar budgets, starting and managing strategic programs, and supervising hundreds of staff. John Quick is also a serial entrepreneur having started up and scaled 5 businesses most recently moving from brick and mortar to online businesses.”

In 2015, the summer edition of the alumni magazine described Quick as a Seattle entrepreneur who was then “COO and co-owner of Seattle Research Labs, a wellness and nutritional supplement company.”

The company website has been taken down, but some information on it is preserved on the Internet Archive. It says, “Seattle Research Labs owns many of the leading wellness and nutritional supplements on the market. These brands include Premium Pure Garcinia Cambogia and Premium Pure Colon Cleanse. We are also the owner of one of the nation’s top-selling weight loss supplements on Amazon.com.”

On Oct. 25, 2015, Northwest said in a blog entry that Quick addressed the college students and said, “You don’t have to wait until you graduate to do something radical for Jesus.”

“Quick then proposed a radical idea of his own to the students of NU by giving them an opportunity to send him an idea for a start-up business any time before November 23, 2015. After that date, he will choose a winner and help them start their business with up to $100,000 in startup costs and six months of consulting.”

It’s not clear what happened with that $100,000 offer or if was ever paid.

When Quick was hired, the Dunleavy transition team said Quick had launched and sold “multiple successful businesses.” I have my doubts about how successful the businesses were and whether they were sold.

On the resume submitted to the Legislature, he said that during his tenure at the Kenai borough as chief of staff, a $5 million deficit was cut to $400,000 in one year with a “laser focus on finding efficiencies.” What he did not admit or acknowledge is that a tax increase and spending from savings was a big part of cutting the deficit. The omission is an important one.

Dermot Cole8 Comments