Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson has resigned, after a series of texts he had with a younger female state worker became public.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the resignation in a statement, saying Clarkson “admitted to conduct in the workplace that did not live up to our high expectations, and this is deeply disappointing.”
The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica reported that Clarkson sent a junior state employee 558 text messages to her personal phone in the month of March. In the texts, Clarkson asked the woman to come to his house at least 18 times, often using a kiss emoji and commenting on the woman’s beauty.
Dunleavy’s statement said nothing is more important than the protection of state employees, “and that includes feeling safe when an employee is at work.”
The ADN and ProPublica reported that Clarkson texted the woman at all hours of the day and evening, including from his state office. The texting stopped after the woman sent him a message in early April asking him to respect professional boundaries and saying that she doesn’t accept late-night calls on her personal phone.
Clarkson’s resignation letter was dated Monday. The ADN and ProPublic story was published before the resignation was made public and reported that Clarkson was taking a month-long leave of absence.
In his resignation letter, Clarkson apologized for what he described as his “lapse of judgment.” He said he believed the texts were “mutual,” and that “there is nothing remotely salacious” about them. He also said that on several occasions, “this person initiated a friendly hug when I came to her work place, and I reflexively gave her a tiny peck of a kiss on the top of her head.”
The woman doesn’t work for the Department of Law, but would interact with Clarkson through her work.
Deputy Attorney General Ed Sniffen will serve as the acting attorney general until a replacement is appointed by the governor, according to the Department of Law.
Dunleavy appoints the attorney general. The person appointed to fill the vacancy is subject to confirmation by the Legislature.