When it comes to weighing in on his former attorney general, Dunleavy says he’s limited by state law

A man with a bald head walks out of a door in an office building
Former Attorney General Kevin Clarkson walks into the gallery to watch Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address on January 27, 2020, in Juneau, Alaska. (Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declined to answer a question on what he knew and when he knew about inappropriate text messages former Attorney General Kevin Clarkson sent to a younger female state worker. 

The governor said he is limited by state law. 

“That issue was dealt with according to law,” he said. “And there are statutes that allow and prohibit certain comments on that.”

RELATED: LISTEN: How months of reporting on attorney general’s unwanted texts led to his resignation

Clarkson resigned on Aug. 24, after the texts became public. The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica reported that Clarkson sent 558 texts to the employee on her personal phone in March. In the texts, Clarkson asked the woman to come to his house at least 18 times. 

In the written statement announcing the resignation, Dunleavy said Clarkson “admitted to conduct in the workplace that did not live up to our high expectations,” which he described as deeply disappointing. 

It’s not clear when Dunleavy became aware of the texts, which stopped after the woman sent Clarkson a message in early April asking him to respect personal boundaries. Clarkson began serving a leave of absence on Aug. 1 that was scheduled to last a month. He resigned a week before the leave was to end. 

During a Tuesday press conference, Dunleavy referred a question by Alaska’s News Source’s Daniella Rivera to his office. 

“They’ll screen it through our Department of Law to make sure that the answers that you’re given are in conjunction with allowable, applicable law to actually talk about that issue.”

The governor’s appointee to fill the Attorney General’s job will be subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Ed Sniffen is serving as the acting attorney general. Sniffen previously was the deputy attorney general. 

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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