Wrigley ready to get to work in second stint as U.S. Attorney

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed former North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley to serve again as U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota.

Wrigley served as lieutenant governor of North Dakota from 2010 to 2016 under then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple and as U.S. attorney for North Dakota from 2001 to 2009, having been appointed by President George W. Bush.

Wrigley, then considered a rising star in both the Republican Party and in state politics flirted with the idea of running for governor in the last state election, but opted out and eventually Doug Burgum was elected governor.

Today, Wrigley is enthusiastic about returning to the position he once held – a position in which he was generally regarded as effective and hands-on. Wrigley is an alumnus of the University of North Dakota and the American University law school in Washington.

Confirmed by the U.S. Senate unanimously on Thursday, only a few bureaucratic steps – which should be resolved in days – are holding up his next term representing the nation and administration in a position with which he is well-acquainted.

“I’m anxious to get to work,” Wrigley told Minot Daily News in an interview the day after his confirmation. “I was honored to be nominated by the President of the United States in August.”

Since opting out of elected office or a run for governor, Wrigley was senior management adviser for Sanford Health.

“It’s a great institution and I appreciate my time there,” Wrigley said. “But after the [2016] election, I began considering the position. At that point, I was encouraged by so many people to seek the position again, including acting U.S. Attorney Chris Myers and so many figures in office, in law enforcement, friends, colleagues and the public. There came a time in the spring of 2017 when I needed to make a decision to seek the position or not and I am deeply appreciative of Chris, with whom I have been friends for 18 years and of others for their encouragement and support.”

North Dakota has a lengthy history of long-term interim U.S. Attorneys. The federal system is devised that way, so that there is state by state consistency when it comes to progression, unlike, for example state attorney’s, where processes can vary. Wrigley’s longtime friend Myers had removed himself from consideration for the position officially, which requires appointment by the president and approval by the U.S. Senate.

While Wrigley said he agreed with the philosophy that “you never step in the same river twice,” he pointed out that every day is different in the position he will soon assume again.

“It’s about the particular needs of North Dakota,” he said. “It’s often reactive but also pro-active. You have to evaluate situations on the ground and your responsibility to the people and to the state.”

Wrigley’s confirmation was hailed by state leaders.

“We’ve worked very hard on it, and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to get confirmation for Drew Wrigley as U.S. Attorney,” said Sen. John Hoeven in a press release immediately following the confirmation announcement. “He served in this role before. He did an outstanding job, and I know he will do a great job again for our state in that capacity.”

“This confirmation was a long time coming, but an eminently qualified nominee like Drew was worth the wait,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer in a press release. “One of my first actions in the Senate was to advocate for the re-nomination and confirmation of Drew Wrigley. He is an accomplished prosecutor and a sincere public servant who has always gone above and beyond for his state and for our country, and I am thankful to Drew and his family for his willingness to serve as the U.S. Attorney for North Dakota.”

Gov. Doug Burgum echoed the sentiment.

“Drew Wrigley provided highly effective leadership as U.S. attorney before, and we’re confident he will do an excellent job again in this critical role,” Burgum said in his press release. “Lt. Gov. Sanford, First Lady Kathryn and I congratulate Drew on his well-deserved nomination and extend our gratitude to North Dakota’s congressional delegation for their efforts to secure his confirmation.”