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Another official decides to leave Alaska’s human rights commission

JUNEAU - The chief of enforcement for Alaska’s human rights commission is leaving, marking the latest departure from the organization.

Sarah Monkton on Tuesday confirmed her plans to resign effective May 1. She said by email that she submitted her resignation for "purely personal reasons."

“I thank the commissioners for the opportunity to serve and the staff for continuing their important work on behalf of the people of Alaska,” she wrote.

Commission chairman Brandon Nakasato and vice-chair Freddie Olin IV recently said they would resign May 1. Gov. Mike Dunleavy quickly nominated replacements.

Alaska Human Rights Commission members Marcus Sanders, left, David Barton, middle, and chairman Brandon Nakasato are shown at the conclusion of a commission meeting Monday, April 1, 2019, in Anchorage. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Nakasato said his decision was related to an uproar involving executive director Marti Buscaglia. She was suspended after complaining on social media about a “Black Rifles Matter” sticker she saw on a truck in the commission’s parking lot and believed to be racist. Buscaglia later announced plans to resign.

Olin said he was leaving for unrelated personal reasons.

The commission was scheduled to meet Thursday in Anchorage to discuss, among other things, election of officers, the process for hiring a new executive director and a "press release and apology."

In addition to a 15-day suspension, Buscaglia was to send an apology letter to the truck's owner after the commission chairman approved the wording.

The governor has said he accepted the resignations of Nakasato and Olin and that he had appointed Cynthia Erickson and A. Debbie Fullenwider to the commission, effective April 10.

"Following recent events, and the commission's failure to restore the public's trust by taking appropriate action, I believe making changes are necessary to take the commission in a new direction," he said in a release.

The Legislature is expected to meet in joint session Wednesday to consider confirmation of Dunleavy's nominees for Cabinet-level posts and for boards and commissions.

Senate President Cathy Giessel said such late appointments can be problematic.

“When the governor gives us names this late, it’s pretty hard for legislators to actually talk to these folks and get to know them,” she told reporters recently, adding later: “We’ll do our best to get know who these folks are so we can make informed votes.”

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