Longtime American Medical Association General Counsel Kirk Johnson resigned on Friday after his position as group vice president for advocacy was eliminated late last week.
Johnson's departure as general counsel, a job he's held since 1984, is effective Dec. 1.
"Mr. Johnson said that he was not prepared to continue with the AMA only in his capacity as general counsel," the association said in a statement.
The AMA said it created new senior-level positions to oversee communications and advocacy, which were Johnson's domain. Those have yet to be filled.
Johnson came under scrutiny in September when the Chicago Sun-Times reported that he tried to negotiate co-sponsorship deals with various consumer products companies in connection with the 1996 Olympics.
Earlier, the AMA board of trustees appointed Johnson to conduct an internal investigation of its controversial endorsement agreement with Delray Beach, Fla.-based Sunbeam Corp.
In recent weeks, Johnson had been stripped of certain responsibilities, including oversight of the public relations staff.
No mention of those issues were made in a news release from the AMA. Johnson "made considerable contributions during his career with the AMA," said Executive Vice President P. John Seward, M.D. "He believed deeply in the vision and goals of the organization and has had a major positive impact on our work."
Seward himself essentially has been placed on probation because of the Sunbeam controversy, and at least one state medical society is calling for his resignation (See story, p. 29).
Johnson is considering several opportunities, including a return to the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin, which does work for the AMA.