Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File                                Gov. Mike Dunleavy, left, listens as Attorney General Kevin Clarkson speak during a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Clarkson’s resignation was announced following revelations of inappropriate text messages with a state employee.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File Gov. Mike Dunleavy, left, listens as Attorney General Kevin Clarkson speak during a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Clarkson’s resignation was announced following revelations of inappropriate text messages with a state employee.

Attorney general resigns following revelations of inappropriate texts

Clarkson exchanged texts with a state employee

Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson resigned Tuesday shortly after revelations of inappropriate text messages exchanged with a staff member, the governor’s office announced.

“Kevin Clarkson has admitted to conduct in the workplace that did not live up to our high expectations, and this is deeply disappointing,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement Tuesday. “This morning he took responsibility for the unintentional consequences of his actions and tendered his resignation to me. I have accepted it.”

Ed Sniffen will serve as acting Attorney General until a replacement can be appointed by the governor, Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr said in an email.

In his resignation letter, Clarkson said he had sent a series of text messages over a month’s time with a state employee who was not under his supervision.

“All of these texts were ‘G’ rated. There is nothing remotely salacious about the texts. In our texts we exchanged innocent mutual endearments between us in words and emojis,” Clarkson wrote. “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 top of her head.”

Clarkson has been on unpaid leave after a Human Resources investigation into the matter. The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica reports he sent the woman, a state employee who did not work directly under Clarkson, 558 texts in about a month, the Associated Press reported.

Clarkson, a long-time Anchorage attorney, won confirmation by the Legislature after telling lawmakers he would not bring his personal views to the job. Gay rights and abortion rights advocates raised concerns over the socially conservative Clarkson, who helped draft the 1998 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

That was struck down in 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, according to AP.

In 2016, Clarkson also worked with the Alliance Defending Freedom to defend a Kenai Peninsula Borough ordinance that required people giving an invocation at assembly meetings to be members of spiritual organizations with an established presence on the peninsula. Three people challenged the invocation, including a Homer Jewish woman, and Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson ruled for the plaintiffs, saying the invocation violated their religious freedoms.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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