PHOENIX (CN) – U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke of Arizona resigned Tuesday after less than two years on the job, fueling speculation that he will take the fall for a controversial gun-trafficking investigation.
“My long tenure in public service has been intensely gratifying,” Burke said in a letter of resignation to President Barack Obama. “It has also been intensely demanding. For me, it is the right time to move on to pursue other aspects of my career and my life and allow the office to move ahead.”
Insiders buzzed Tuesday morning that Burke’s resignation stemmed from Burke’s connection to the Operation Fast and Furious gun-trafficking investigation orchestrated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The operation, which received legal advice from Burke’s office, is under investigation for encouraging the illegal sale of guns so that agents could track them to Mexico.
Ann Scheel will serve as acting U.S. attorney.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder praised the outgoing prosecutor, whose resignation is effective immediately.
“United States Attorney Dennis Burke has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office, first as a line prosecutor over a decade ago and more recently as United States Attorney,” Holder said in a statement. “Under his leadership, the office has made great progress in its pursuit of justice with the creation of special units focusing on civil rights enforcement and rule of law, as well as more robust outreach to key communities, particularly in Indian Country. The office’s quick response to the devastating shootings in January that claimed the lives of several people and critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was crucial in arresting and charging the alleged shooter.”
Burke was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona in September 2009.