Burgum appoints Drew Wrigley as North Dakota attorney general

Wrigley had previously expressed his intent to run for the post after the late Wayne Stenehjem announced he would not seek reelection this past December.

Drew Wrigley gestures while seated in a conference room
Drew Wrigley talks Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Fargo about his plans to run for North Dakota attorney general.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum

BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has selected Drew Wrigley to serve as the state's attorney general until the end of the year.

Wrigley, a former Republican lieutenant governor and federal prosecutor, had already announced his intention to run for attorney general and will aim to keep the job for an additional four years with voters' approval in November.

The appointment on Tuesday, Feb. 8, comes nearly two weeks after the unexpected death of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem , whose 21-year tenure in the office was the longest in state history.

Burgum said Wrigley's two stints as a U.S. attorney and six years as lieutenant governor under Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple makes him highly qualified to serve as attorney general.

"(Wrigley) has a deep knowledge of the law, extensive background in public safety and broad experience with the intersections of local, state and federal law enforcement," Burgum said in news release. "His knowledge of the federal government is especially valuable at this time, with federal overreach a frequent threat to states’ rights."


Wrigley, 56, said he is humbled by the appointment and pledged to work tirelessly for North Dakotans.

Both Burgum and Wrigley nodded their caps to Stenehjem, with his successor saying he will "keep (Stenehjem's) memory near as we all navigate the path ahead.”

Democratic-NPL Chair Patrick Hart criticized Wrigley's appointment and accused Burgum of "playing kingmaker" with the vacancy.

"Not only is Drew Wrigley currently running for this office, but voters haven’t even had the chance to thoroughly vet him before Burgum decided for them," Hart said in a statement. "It is obvious that Governor Burgum is more concerned with keeping the 'Good Ol’ Boys Club' he once pledged to dismantle firmly in place than he is letting the people decide who is best qualified to occupy the Attorney General’s office."

Shortly after Stenehjem announced he would not seek reelection in December, Wrigley launched his campaign for the office. So far, no other candidates have entered the race.

Born in Bismarck and raised in Fargo, Wrigley graduated from the University of North Dakota before earning a law degree from American University in Washington, D.C.

After working as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, Wrigley returned to North Dakota to become one of the youngest U.S. attorneys in the country at age 36. Following eight years on the job, Wrigley was appointed to serve as lieutenant governor and won a four-year term on Dalrymple's ticket in 2012.

Wrigley later served two more years as U.S. attorney after being appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019.

The attorney general represents the state in legal matters, issues opinions on questions of state law, enforces open records laws and oversees a number of law enforcement operations, including the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation.


The officeholder also serves on the powerful Industrial Commission and Board of University and School Lands. With a salary exceeding $165,000, the attorney general is one of the highest paid statewide elected officials.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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