ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A U.S. Interior Department official has reacted harshly to the resignation of most members of a board that advises it on national parks.

Associate Deputy Secretary Todd Willens said Wednesday that members of the National Park System Advisory Board ignored sexual harassment at national parks and praised a former parks official who had been criticized for ethics and management failures.

Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles chaired the congressionally authorized board until Monday. The Democrat and eight others on the 12-member board sent a resignation letter, saying their requests to meet as prescribed in law have been disregarded.

Willens says it’s “patently false” to say the department hasn’t engaged with the board. He says the terms of two members had expired and their resignations are a “hollow and dishonest political stunt.”

The Washington Post first reported the resignations.

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