Wayne Anthony Ross
Sarah Palin (R)
JUNEAU, Alaska (Legal Newsline)-Gov. Sarah Palin's nominee for Alaska attorney general appeared before state lawmakers Wednesday for the start of his confirmation hearings.
The Republican governor has nominated Wayne Anthony Ross, a leader of the National Rifle Association and two-time gubernatorial candidate, to serve as the state's next chief legal officer.
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ross was peppered with questions about his position on a range of issues, including subsistence and tribal sovereignty for which Native Alaskan leaders have opposed his nomination.
Palin has drawn fire over Ross's nomination from the Association of Village Council Presidents, which provides social services to Alaska Natives.
Ross, during his 2002 gubernatorial run, pledged to "hire a band of 'junkyard dog' assistant attorney generals to challenge the federal law that requires a subsistence preference" for native groups.
"Nobody ever accused me of tippy toeing around the issues. Now I'm asking for this job of advocating for Alaska, for the state that I love almost as much as I love my wife," Ross told the committee.
Ross was also asked how he would handle situations similar to the ones encountered by former Attorney General Talis Colberg while Palin was the center of an ethics probe at the same time she was the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Colberg, a Palin appointee, was criticized by some lawmakers for being more loyal to the governor's political interests than he was interested in being an advocate for Alaskans.
"How would you handle a conflict between your duty to the governor and your duty to the law?" state Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, asked.
Ross said he would serve the interests of the state rather than of the governor.
"My duties to the law come first. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and that of the State of Alaska. I didn't take an oath to support and defend the governor," Ross said.
Ross will appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday. State legislators are scheduled to vote April 16 on whether Ross should be the state's attorney general.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.