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Alaska Governor names new State Attorney General

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December 5, 2010

JUNEAU, Alaska: Newly-elected Governor Sean Parnell, the former lieutenant governor who first assumed the state's executive position following the resignation of Sarah Palin in 2009, announced his selection of John J. Burns as the state's new attorney general on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010.[1] Alaska is only one of four states that gives its governor the authority to appointment an individual as the state's top law enforcer. The Fairbanks attorney was chosen to replace Daniel S. Sullivan who must vacate the statewide office effective Monday, December 6th in order to accept his new role as commissioner for the state's Department of Natural Resources.

Burns stated that he had not applied for the position and had not made a decision as to whether he would accept the nomination until he had spoken with Parnell the week before the announcement. While he admits that votes Republican more often than not in elections, statewide as well as nationally, Burns was quick to state that he does not consider himself to be a partisan. He contends that his "responsibility first and foremost is to uphold the law" and that he is "also the governor's attorney. So long as the governor's policy is consistent with the law, I'll be content to pursue those policies."[2]

The State Attorney General is charged with heading the state's Department of Law. His responsibilities include advising the governor on legal matters and must communicate with state lawmakers on a regular basis. The appointment of Burns to the statewide governmental position still has to be confirmed by the State Legislature. Wayne Ross, a prominent Anchorage attorney who was Governor Sarah Palin's first choice to replace Talis J. Colberg following his resignation in February 2009, was the first governor appointee to be rejected by state lawmakers. An article written by Ross years prior to his appointment in which he referred to homosexuals as degenerates was the cause of this dismissal.