Alaska’s Attorney General Resigning

Alaska’s Attorney General is resigning. John Burns will stay on the job until Jan. 2. In a letter to the Governor, Burns says the decision was “based solely on personal reasons.” He goes on to say he has had to live out of a suitcase, which is not fair to his family in Fairbanks.

Anchorage Democrat Hollis French is Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was a supporter of Burns and will help choose the state’s next Attorney General. French appreciates Burns reasons, but says his resignation is disappointing.

“The first time we met he came into my office, looked me in the eye and said, I’m not a politician. You know, I’ve been asked to serve and I’m going to serve and it was really just a nice refreshing introduction to a person who really put his heart and soul into the job for a year and now has to step down because of the demands of the job,” French said.

Burns became attorney general only 11 months ago. There’s been high turnover in the position in recent years. And French says that’s unfortunate, since it takes a long time to get up to speed in the job. He says the state would be much better off with a long serving Attorney General.

“I don’t know what the number is but I think over the last half dozen years we’ve been through a half dozen attorneys general. And it’s a big job and it’s an important job and what you hope for is some longevity because it does take a long time to get up to speed and get a handle on the different legal challenges the state faces,” French said.

Governor Parnell was not available to comment today. In a statement, he says he accepted Burns resignation with reluctance. Parnell’s spokesperson says she expects the Governor to begin interviewing potential candidates for the job in the coming weeks.

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Annie Feidt is the Editor and Producer of Alaska News Nightly, and is also a frequent contributor to the show. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49thstate just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie