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Burgum appoints former U.S. attorney, lieutenant governor Drew Wrigley to serve as attorney general

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today appointed former U.S. attorney and lieutenant governor Drew Wrigley to serve out the remainder of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s term after his sudden passing on Jan. 28. The four-year term ends Dec. 31. Wrigley plans to take the oath of office at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Capitol.

Wrigley served as North Dakota’s U.S. attorney from 2001 to 2009, having been appointed by President George W. Bush, and again from 2019 to 2021 after being appointed by President Donald Trump. Wrigley served as lieutenant governor for six years under former Gov. Jack Dalrymple, having been appointed to the role in 2010 and winning election to a four-year term with Dalrymple in 2012.

“Having twice served as North Dakota’s chief federal law enforcement officer leading the U.S. attorney’s offices in Bismarck and Fargo, and six years as lieutenant governor, Drew Wrigley brings highly relevant state and federal experience to the role of North Dakota Attorney General. He 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. His knowledge of the federal government is especially valuable at this time, with federal overreach a frequent threat to states’ rights. Our state will be extremely well-served by Drew’s legal skills and steadfast commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of North Dakota citizens,” Burgum said. “We also continue to mourn the loss and honor the legacy of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, a dedicated public servant who served the State of North Dakota with integrity for more than 45 years, leaving an indelible mark on the Attorney General’s Office.”

Wrigley was born in Bismarck and grew up in Fargo. He earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and philosophy from the University of North Dakota in 1988 and his law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law in 1991. He completed a year-long judicial clerkship in Delaware and served for five years as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, prosecuting a variety of crimes. After moving back to Bismarck in 1998, Wrigley served as deputy chief of staff for then-Gov. John Hoeven in 2000-2001. Most recently, he worked as counsel with his family’s Fargo contracting firms, Wrigley Mechanical Inc. and BDT Mechanical LLC.

“I am deeply humbled by the faith that Governor Burgum has placed in me, and I pledge to work tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of North Dakota,” Wrigley said. “During my service, I will always be mindful of the outstanding work of my friend Wayne Stenehjem, and I will keep his memory near as we all navigate the path ahead.”

The Attorney General’s Office consists of 13 divisions: Administration, Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), Civil Litigation and Natural Resources & Indian Affairs, Consumer Protection and Antitrust (CPAT), Crime Laboratory (Crime Lab), Special Prosecutions, Criminal Justice Information Sharing (CJIS) and Information Technology (IT), Finance, Fire Marshal, Gaming, Lottery, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), and State and Local Government.

The Attorney General represents the state in all legal matters where the state is named as a party or the state may have an interest in the outcome of the litigation. The Office of Attorney General also enforces the state’s open meetings and open records laws and issues opinions in response to complaints that a public entity has violated those laws. The office is authorized for 253 full-time team members and has a budget of $91.8 million for the 2021-2023 biennium.