HELENA — Attorney General-elect Tim Fox on Friday announced the appointments of five top officials who will work for him when he takes over the office Jan. 7.
“We’re very, very fortunate in Montana to have good people to choose from for these positions,” Fox said at a news conference at the Capitol. “I’m glad to report to you that we’ve had an outpouring of interest in positions within the Department of Justice.”
Fox appointed these staff members:
-- Scott Darkenwald, chief of staff. Darkenwald, 59, directed the Department of Administration under Gov. Judy Martz. He spent nearly 30 years in business as an entrepreneur and has extensive executive management experience. A Montana native, Darkenwald most recently worked in Indiana in resource development for Project Mercy, an international nonprofit that does rural community development in Africa.
-- Mark Mattioli, chief deputy. A Butte native, Mattioli, 54, has been an assistant attorney general under attorneys general Joe Mazurek, Mike McGrath and Steve Bullock and is bureau chief of the Appellate Services Bureau. He has handled hundreds of cases before the Montana Supreme Court. Mattioli is a former Supreme Court fellow for the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C., and is a graduate of the University of Montana law school.
-- Lawrence VanDyke, solicitor general. A fifth-generation Montanan, VanDyke, 39, has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in construction engineering management from Montana State University. After managing his family’s heavy-construction business for five years, VanDyke attended Harvard Law School and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He clerked for a federal appeals court and then practiced law for six years at a national firm. Most recently, he served as assistant solicitor general for the Texas attorney general’s office.
-- Jon Bennion, deputy attorney general. Bennion, 34, is a Billings native who has worked since 2006 as government relations director and staff attorney for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a law degree from UM. Bennion clerked for a state district judge in Billings before joining the chamber. He has written a book on the history of campaigns and elections in modern Montana.
-- Julie James, executive assistant. James, 52, was raised in Livingston and graduated from Park High School. She is a certified paralegal and has worked for the Powell County Attorney’s Office, a public defender in Arizona and the Legal Services Division in the state Justice Department. She has worked at the Helena law firm of Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman for the past six years and was Fox’s assistant at the law firm for the past year.
Fox thanked his transition team, headed by former Montana Supreme Court Justice John Warner of Helena, for doing a good job soliciting and reviewing applications before he chose his staff.
Fox, a Republican, also praised the cooperation he has received from Bullock, the current attorney general and governor-elect. Bullock defeated Fox in the 2008 race for attorney general.
Fox said he can appoint up to 10 more people, for a maximum of 15, for jobs in the Justice Department. Eight of the appointees will be division administrators. Some of Bullock’s division administrators are leaving or retiring, he said, while others may be staying on with him.
He said he will be announcing more appointments soon.
Fox said he has started working on legislation and looking at the Justice Department’s proposed budget. He said he has been in contact with county attorneys, law enforcement officials, leaders of the tavern and gambling trade associations and the Montana Highway Patrol, among others.