The surprise resignation of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty comes in the midst of controversy over the department’s firing of eight US Attorneys last year.

The No. 2 official at the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, has submitted his resignation to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department announced Monday.

McNulty cited personal reasons for his resignation.

“The financial realities of college-age children and two decades of public service lead me to a long overdue transition in my career,” he wrote in his resignation later.

His resignation comes amid a controversy over the department’s firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year, a move that has sparked a firestorm on Capitol Hill. He was one of the key figures in meetings and discussions about the shakeup, and investigators from the House and Senate Judiciary committees grilled him for more than eight hours in April.

In a statement announcing McNulty’s resignation, Gonzales praised him as “an effective manager of day-to-day operations” since he took office in November 2005.

“Paul is an outstanding public servant and a fine attorney who has been valued here at the department, by me and so many others, as both a colleague and a friend,” Gonzales said. “He will be missed. On behalf of the department, I wish him well in his future endeavors.”

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