Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson resigned Tuesday following the publication of an Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica investigation showing he sent hundreds of text messages to a younger state employee that Clarkson acknowledged had made her uncomfortable.
Records obtained by the newsrooms found Clarkson sent at least 558 text messages between March 5 and March 31 to a woman whose job required she sometimes interact with the attorney general. In at least 18 messages he invited the woman to come to his home.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, said in an email Tuesday that he had accepted Clarkson’s resignation.
“This administration has and always will expect the highest level of professional conduct in the workplace,” a statement from Dunleavy said. “There is nothing more important than the protection of our state employees, and that includes feeling safe when an employee is at work.
“Kevin Clarkson has admitted to conduct in the workplace that did not live up to our high expectations, and this is deeply disappointing. This morning he took responsibility for the unintentional consequences of his actions and tendered his resignation to me. I have accepted it.
“State law provides guidelines and protections for all state employees including confidentiality on personnel matters. The Governor’s office is bound by and conforms to those laws. My administration will continue to insist upon professional conduct from all our employees, regardless of their position in state government.”
While Clarkson’s resignation came within hours of the story’s publication, it came more than two months after the news organizations began asking questions and requesting records about his text messages.
The newsrooms learned of Clarkson’s behavior in June and first requested copies of the messages from the Department of Law — which he oversees — on June 4. In a June 19 response, the Law Department said the state “has no records.”
The Daily News and ProPublica have sent multiple requests since then. This month, in response to a records request, the Department of Law shared an email that had been sent to employees in its civil division that said the attorney general was on leave for the month of August and that his authority had been delegated to another lawyer in the office. On Friday, the department confirmed that Clarkson was on unpaid leave and that none of his three predecessors had been off for the length of time he had been.
Given repeated opportunities to comment, the governor’s office has declined to answer questions about when Dunleavy learned of the behavior and what actions were taken between the discovery of the messages and Clarkson’s leave of absence, which began Aug. 1. On Monday, it cited employee privacy, and Dunleavy’s statement on Tuesday reiterated that.
Earlier this month, Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner said Clarkson was expected to return to work Sept. 1 and declined to say if the attorney general was on paid or unpaid leave, citing personnel rules.
The article was published at Alaska’s Attorney General Resigns Hours After We Published “Uncomfortable” Texts He Sent to a Younger Colleague.