Gov. Dunleavy seeks to increase Virginia law firm contract

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Attorney General Kevin Clarkson discuss the governor’s proposed budget and Permanent Fund Dividend related constitutional amendments with reporters at a press conference held at the Capitol, Jan. 30, 2019.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Attorney General Kevin Clarkson discuss legislative issues with reporters at a press conference in the Capitol on Jan. 30. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration is negotiating a contract extension that would pay a Virginia law firm $125,000 for its services in a legal fight with Alaska unions.

The Republican administration wants to expand its current contract with Consovoy McCarthy, The Anchorage Daily News reported Thursday.

The state and its public employee unions traded lawsuits last month in a dispute over union membership and dues.

Under Attorney General Kevin Clarkson’s interpretation of a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the state’s unionized public employees must inform the state annually of their intention to remain union members. The system would be the first of its kind in the nation.

The state is interfering with the relationships between unions and members, union officials said.

A judge issued a preliminary injunction last week preventing the state from implementing Clarkson’s decision. The injunction is a “speed bump” in a longer legal battle likely to reach the Supreme Court, Clarkson said.

“If your goal is to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, then this is the firm that you would hire,” former Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said of Consovoy McCarthy, which has strong ties to President Donald Trump and conservative legal causes nationwide.

The state signed a contract Aug. 2 that caps payment to the firm at $50,000. The Alaska Department of Law paid the firm $34,875 on Sept. 27, according to state records.

State regulations permit no-bid, legal-services contracts if they are worth less than $50,000. The administration can extend another no-bid contract capped at $100,000, but needs written justification to increase that amount, officials said.

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