Sec. Acosta did right by Alaska, Murkowski and Sullivan say

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced his resignation, effective next week. (Photo: Department of Labor.)

U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has resigned amid criticism of a lenient deal he negotiated for accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida.

Among those who wanted Acosta to stay on was U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

“I’ve been impressed with his level of attention to the details of his job,” Murkowski said Wednesday, two days before Acosta announced his resignation.

Acosta visited Alaska last year. Murkowski said she wanted him to understand how important it is to the fishing industry that seafood processors have sufficient workers during peak season. She said he took the message to heart.

“He not only came out and held a roundtable with so many in the industry, he continued to engage on that throughout all of last year,” Murkowski said.

Acosta explained his role in the Epstein matter to Murkowski before his Senate confirmation, and she was satisfied with his answer.

“So is Epstein an awful, heinous individual? Yes,” Murkowski said. “Did Acosta, in his role as (U.S. attorney,) was he in cahoots or alliance with Epstein? I don’t believe so.”

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan put in a good word for Acosta, too. In an email from a spokesman Thursday, Sullivan called him “a strong advocate for Alaska’s working men and women,” and Friday he said he thanks Acosta for his service.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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