Alaska AG could remain on job despite Palin's resignation

Chris Rizo Jul. 6, 2009, 12:33pm

Sarah Palin (R)

JUNEAU, Alaska (Legal Newsline) - Despite the governor's pending resignation, Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan will remain on the job unless the new governor chooses to appoint someone else to the position, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, who announced she is stepping down from office late this month, had earlier nominated Sullivan to serve as the state's chief legal officer.

Although his nomination is pending legislative approval, Alaska law allows him to serve unless he fails confirmation, said Cindy Smith, an aide to the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

"He is the AG," Smith told Legal Newsline of Sullivan, noting that when Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell is inaugurated at the governor's picnic in Fairbanks on July 26 he is free -- but not obligated -- to appoint a new attorney general.

Sullivan is a former U.S. assistant secretary of state. Palin's first pick, Anchorage attorney Wayne Anthony Ross, was rejected by state lawmakers in April. The vote marked the first time that a nominee to head an Alaska agency has failed confirmation.

In a surprise announcement at a press conference in her hometown of Wasilla, the 45-year-old Palin said Friday she will leave the governor's office, a move that has spurred speculation the first-term governor plans to focus on a presidential race in 2012.

"Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional Lame Duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose," Palin said in a statement.

Palin was elected governor of Alaska in November 2006, becoming the first woman and the youngest person to hold the job. She defeated incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary in 2006.

She was Arizona Sen. John McCain's vice presidential running mate last year.

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