Alaska gets first ever 'temporary substitute' lt. governor

Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell sworn in despite legal doubts

Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alaska got a new lieutenant governor Sunday as Craig Campbell was sworn in as a the state's first ever "temporary substitute lieutenant governor."

State law requires lieutenant governor appointees to be confirmed by the Legislature before taking office, but Attorney General Dan Sullivan determined that it was so important to maintain the line of succession to the governorship that Campbell should take office without confirmation.

Legislators are planning to meet in special session Aug. 10, and Campbell is expected to be formally confirmed then. A legislative attorney reached a different conclusion, andsaid confirmation was required before taking office.

Campbell was traveling Monday and was unavailable for comment.

At Campbell's Fairbanks swearing-in, the usual oath of office was changed to identify the statute that Sullivan determined created the "temporary substitute lieutenant governor" position.

"The usual oath of office was not administered because of a disagreement among lawyers about whether Campbell could rise to the lieutenant governor's post without confirmation," the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The position to which Campbell was sworn in does not exist in Alaska's Constitution or statutes, but Sullivan said a statute allowing for some of the duties of the lieutenant governor to be transferred to other officials meant that Campbell could be an "acting" lieutenant governor.

The Parnell administration announced that Campbell was sworn in as a "temporary substitute lieutenant governor."

Sullivan acknowledged the importance of the legislative confirmation but said maintaining the clear line of succession outweighed the Legislature's role.

The succession issue arose when former Gov. Sarah Palin changed her mind about who she wanted to be the new lieutenant governor and designated Campbell to replace Parnell instead of previous designee Joe Schmidt, commissioner the Department of Corrections.

Campbell had formerly been commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard.

DMVA spokesman McHugh Pierre said Deputy Adjutant General Thomas Katkus will serve as acting commissioner until Campbell is formally confirmed.

"Any time Gen. Campbell is away that is the natural progression there," Pierre said.

It will be up to Parnell to appoint, and the legislature to confirm, a permanent commissioner after Aug. 10, Pierre said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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