Politics & Government

Aide to Alaska Gov. Parnell resigns over hiring flap

Former state Sen. Gene Therriault resigned as Gov. Sean Parnell's energy adviser Thursday amid furor over the legality of Therriault signing on to the position when he was still in the Legislature.

Neither Therriault nor Parnell admitted wrongdoing, with Therriault blaming Parnell's critics for creating "political turmoil" over the $110,000-a-year job.

"Unfortunately the political turmoil that has been generated by your detractors regarding the timing of my appointment has become a distraction and a potential detriment to you," Therriault wrote in his resignation letter to the governor.

Therriault, who started the job in September, is the second state legislator to take a position with the Parnell administration and then resign under fire for doing so. Former Eagle River state Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom quit earlier this month when Attorney General Dan Sullivan declared there was an "appreciable risk" that a court might find it illegal for Parnell to provide such jobs to legislators.

The Alaska Constitution and state law do not allow legislators to be "nominated, elected or appointed" to any state job created while they were in office. They must wait a year before taking such a job. Both Therriault and Dahlstrom resigned from the Legislature in order to take newly created state jobs.

Candidates for governor slammed Parnell on Thursday. Democrat Ethan Berkowitz and Republicans Bill Walker and Ralph Samuels said publicly that Parnell arrogantly broke the law and has taken no responsibility or shown remorse.

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