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Name: Richards, Daniel
Current Position: Former Commission President

Hunter, sportsman and 30-year veteran of the real estate industry, Daniel W. Richards was elected Fish and Game Commission president by his fellow commissioners in 2012 and immediately became the focus of intense scrutiny after he went cougar hunting in Idaho, bagged a big cat and sent a picture of himself posing with his dead prey to an online publication. It is legal to hunt mountain lions in Idaho, but not in California.

He was ousted in August 2012.

Richards was born and raised in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and is a lifelong outdoorsman who had his first gun, a “.410 single shot,” at age 10. He started out shooting rabbits and squirrels as a youth, graduated to deer as he got older, and takes pride in the Royal elk and cougar he bagged later in life. Richards graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor of science degree in journalism in 1974.

Richards began his real estate management career in the early 1980s working for the Vanguard Company and founded Stephen Daniels Commercial Brokerage, Inc. in 1983. In 2010, his company became affiliated with Coldwell Banker and was rechristened Coldwell Banker Commercial Inland Empire. The company specializes in land sales and acquisitions. It also leases, sells, manages and develops office and industrial properties in Southern California.

Richards, a Republican, joined more than 130 hopefuls—including politicians Cruz Bustamante, Tom McClintock and Peter Camejo; celebrities Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mary Carey and Gary Coleman; publishers Larry Flynt and Arianna Huffington; and businessman Peter Ueberroth—in the campaign to replace Governor Gray Davis in the recall election of 2003.

Richards’ official statement of candidacy said the governor should “set a moderate course” and proposed a 12% across-the-board cut in the state budget. He promised “no new taxes.” He advocated for the three-strikes rule and an end to “anti-business policies [that] are driving good paying jobs out of California.”  

Arnold Schwarzenegger won the election and Richards became a political and financial supporter of the new governor.

Richards has wide-ranging financial interests that include multiple development companies. One of those, Colonies Partners LP (of which he is co-managing partner), proved controversial. The company embarked upon development of a major commercial-residential project in San Bernardino County in 1997, but ran afoul of the county over a flood-control easement.

The developers sued the county and were in and out of court as advantage shifted back and forth. Just about the time it looked like the county might prevail in court, the county Board of Supervisors agreed to settle the suit and pay the developers $77 million. The settlement was put on hold when word of its terms were leaked, but another court decision favorable to the developers brought everyone back to the negotiating table and a $102 million settlement was approved.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus and fellow supervisors Paul Biane and Gary Ovitt voted for the settlement in a 3-2 decision and shortly afterward Postmus won election as county assessor. Postmus resigned his post in 2009 after investigators found methamphetamine in his home while searching for evidence of alleged mismanagement as assessor.

As dark clouds gathered over Postmus, investigators announced in 2010 that he had been charged with conspiracy and accepting a bribe as part of the Colonies settlement negotiations. Five unnamed, unindicted co-conspirators were alluded to in a criminal complaint and were later identified as including Colonies co-managing partners Jeff Burum and Richards.

Postmus pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery in March 2011. Two months later, a new 29-count indictment was filed that named four defendants, including Burum but not Richards, in matters related to the $102 million settlement. Richards received some criticism when it was found that he had not included his holdings in Colonies Partners on his disclosure forms during vetting for his appointment to the Fish and Game Commission in 2008.

Richards has not been charged in any matters concerning Colonies Partners.

Richards was chairman of the San Bernardino Fish and Game Commission at the time of his appointment to the state commission by Governor Schwarzenegger, but had a falling out with him over the state Fish and Game Commission’s implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), the plan to establish restricted areas of commercial and recreational fishing along the 1,100-mile coastline.

At one point Richards called Schwarzenegger “a forked-tongue devil” for the governor’s support of more expansive fishing closures than commercial and sportfishing interests wanted. “This just shows how corrupt this process is,” Richards said during a struggle that saw the repeated shuffling of commission member as the governor attempted to exert his influence. “This process, the Marine Life Protection Act, is so corrupt, so offensive it’s unimaginable.”

Richards, who has a history of run-ins with environmentalists, had this to say about the MLPA: “These radical, left-wing environmentalists want to put up massive reserves to keep people from fishing. It’s all being funded, this takeover of California’s marine resources, by the Packard Foundation, backed by a billionaire with nefarious intentions. They are anti-fishing, anti-hunting, anti-people.”

Richards is a member of the National Rifle Association and the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep. He married his wife, Judy (a retired school teacher), in 1973 and has a married daughter, Kendra Leigh Richards-Miller.


Commissioners (Fish and Game Commission website)

Candidates to Succeed Gray Davis if Recalled (Secretary of State)

Muck and Grime (Paul Lebowitz’s blog)

Daniel W. Richards (Our Campaigns)

Dan Richards Reveals a Little About His Outdoor Commitment (Jesse’s Hunting & Outdoors)

Stephen Daniels Commercial Brokerage Strengthens Coldwell Banker Commercial Brand in Southern California (Coldwell Banker)

Colonies Partner Disclosure Lacking (by Joe Nelson, Inland Empire Newspapers)

Four Indicted in San Bernardino County Corruption Probe (by Joe Nelson, Mike Cruz and Will Bigham, Inland Empire Newspapers)

State Appeals Court Could Have Major Impact on Colonies Case (by Joe Nelson, Inland Empire Newspapers)

$100,000 Contribution Not a Bribe from Colonies, Says Postmus (by Joe Nelson, Inland Empire Newspapers)

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