Alaska attorney general Kevin Clarkson has resigned after he admitted to repeatedly sending inappropriate text messages to a junior state employee.
Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy, who appointed Mr Clarkson to his role, told reporters that the 61-year-old attorney general had resigned in a statement on Tuesday.
“Kevin Clarkson has admitted to conduct in the workplace that did not live up to our high expectations, and this is deeply disappointing,” Mr Dunleavy said. “This morning he took responsibility for the unintentional consequences of his actions and tendered his resignation to me. I have accepted it.”
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The decision came after ProPublica and the Anchorage Daily News revealed in a joint investigation on Monday that Mr Clarkson had sent more than 550 text messages to an unnamed female state employee’s phone.
The attorney general invited the employee over to his house in 18 of the messages and was reported to have used suggestive emojis in many of the texts.
The woman was not directly supervised by the attorney general, but would have to interact with him in professional settings, according to NBC News.
In messages sent in March, Mr Clarkson referred to the employee as “sweet lady” and “beautiful” and used the kiss emoji multiple times when he invited her over to his residence.
In late March, Mr Clarkson messaged the woman: “Haven’t seen you in a while, so you owe me a number of hugs,” but on 4 April, the state employee told him to act professionally and added: “Please remember this is my personal phone.”
Before the contents of his messages were published on Monday, Mr Clarkson had been put on an administrative leave of absence without pay for one month.
However, once his messages were made public, the attorney general’s office announced that he had sent a letter of resignation to Mr Dunleavy.
In that letter, provided to NBC, Mr Clarkson apologised and wrote that he is disappointed that his “errors in judgment … have become a distraction to the good work and good people working in the state’s and your service.
“I believed we had a positive friendship borne of mutual respect and interests. What I failed to recognise is the impact that these interactions had on this person, due to the disparity in our workplace rank.”
He added: “Of course, I should have recognised this from the start, and should have maintained a more distanced and professional relationship. I am deeply sorry for the discomfort I caused this person, and only wish her well.”
NBC reported that Mr Clarkson’s chief of staff Ed Sniffen will serve as acting attorney general until the governor appoints his replacement.