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Controversial nominee for Alaska Judicial Council withdraws

Patti Epler

JUNEAU -- A controversial nominee for the Alaska Judicial Council has withdrawn his name, one day before he was scheduled to be confirmed by the Legislature.

Don Haase, an electrical designer from Valdez, had raised concerns among legislators because of his staunchly conservative views and ties to a political website with right-wing leanings.

The Senate Judiciary Committee declined to support his nomination by Gov. Sean Parnell after he told the committee that he believed extramarital affairs and pre-marital sex ought to be against the law. The committee also was concerned that Haase did not list his participation in the Eagle Forum Alaska, a conservative political organization, on his resume.

Questions were raised about his residency in Valdez. The seven-member board has been balanced geographically with public members coming from the three most-populated judicial districts. Haase would be replacing a member from the First Judicial District although he lives in the Third Judicial District.

In a letter Thursday to Parnell withdrawing his name, Haase said he was concerned that he had been "mischaracterized as an extremist" but that he did not want his appointment to the council to be second-guessed.

"Just as I would not wish to see someone serve who is perceived as an extreme liberal, I can understand why those who do not know me might be concerned by the caricature of me as painted in the press," he said.

He said the question about extramarital and pre-marital sex caught him off guard and that he answered without giving it much thought. "I do not make a habit of worrying about what my neighbors are doing behind closed doors," he wrote.

He said he simply didn't believe his political connections were relevant to the job so he did not put them on his resume.

The governor did not ask for Haase's resignation but respects his decision, said Sharon Leighow, Parnell's press secretary.

There's no timeframe yet for naming a replacement, she said.

Contact Patti Epler at patti(at)alaskadispatch.com.