Palin names new AG: Soldotna bill signing provides venue for big announcement

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gov. Sarah Palin took the opportunity of a legislative bill signing in Soldotna on Tuesday to announce her selection for a new state Attorney General.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Speaker of the House Mike Chenault watches as Gov. Sarah Palin signs one of five bills into law Tuesday afternoon during a joint meeting of the Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Sports Center.

Palin nominated former key State Department official Daniel S. Sullivan to head the state Department of Law. A former Anchorage attorney who served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, Sullivan has strong ties to America's northern-most state.

An ex-Marine officer, he served as a clerk to both the state Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Fairbanks. Following the clerk posts, he practiced law in Anchorage before going to work in Washington, D.C. as a director at the National Security Council and National Economic Council, according to a press release from the governor's office.

Palin, who was attending a joint luncheon of the Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Sports Center, told the packed room of Kenai Peninsula and Alaska dignitaries Sullivan's recent work in the nation's capital "on issues including the Alaska natural gas pipeline, Arctic policy, Law of the Sea and opening aviation markets overseas has already benefited Alaska."

She also cautioned the new Attorney General "public service is not easy ... it's not easy on daughters. He has three daughters," Palin said, making obvious reference to a recent spat she had with TV personality David Letterman over comments he made about her daughter.

Sullivan said he is "deeply honored" by the appointment, and he is ready and eager to help Alaska achieve its goals.

Sullivan told the audience that he realizes he's the governor's top legal adviser while also counsel for the Legislature.

But, Sullivan said, his highest responsibility will be carrying out the authority of the law and the Alaska state constitution.

During his brief address, Sullivan acknowledged the presence of his mother- and father-in-law, Mary Jane and Hugh "Bud" Fate, a former Alaska legislator.

Sullivan is Palin's third selection for attorney general since taking office in December 2006.

Palin's first attorney general, Talis Colberg, was a prominent figure in Troopergate, the Alaska Legislature's investigation into Palin's firing of her former public safety commissioner. Colberg later resigned.

Palin then nominated the more controversial Anchorage lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross to replace Colberg, but in April, state lawmakers rejected Ross, a director of the National Rifle Association. Ross had been criticized for, among other things, refusing to disavow his past characterization of gays as "immoral" and "degenerate."

Ross is the attorney who defended Soldotna guide Jeff Webster after he threw buckets of water on Iraq war protestors at the Soldotna "Y."

On Tuesday, Kenai Peninsula legislator Rep. Kurt Olson said Sullivan "will be the AG until the April confirmation process."

The state House and Senate will meet as one body to confirm the governor's appointment.

"He won't have any problem," Olson said.

Palin was in Soldotna to sign three bills that came out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee headed by Olson: one extending the Board of Public Accountancy, one revising the state mortgage lending system and one bringing state insurance statutes in line with national standards. She also signed two bills sponsored by Kenai Peninsula legislator and Speaker of the House Mike Chenault: one referred to by the governor as the cell-phone annoyance bill, which instills a do not call registry for mobile and cell phones; and one repealing the authority for day fines, a piece of legislation approved years ago but never implemented.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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