Recall Dunleavy lays out response to rejection

Recall Dunleavy volunteers Frankie Urquhart, left, Jessie Chapman and Pat Chapman gather signatures on Aug. 1 in downtown Ketchikan for a petition to remove Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office. (Photo by Elizabeth Gabriel/KRBD)

Recall Dunleavy volunteers Frankie Urquhart, left, Jessie Chapman and Pat Chapman gather signatures on Aug. 1 in downtown Ketchikan for a petition to remove Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office. Recall Dunleavy laid out its legal arguments in favor of the recall application for the first time on Wednesday. (Photo by Elizabeth Gabriel/KRBD)

The group Recall Dunleavy laid out its legal arguments in favor of the application to recall the governor for the first time on Wednesday.

In a motion filed with Anchorage Superior Court, Recall Dunleavy responded to the arguments Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson made when he opposed the application. Recall Dunleavy has sued, seeking to overturn the decision and begin gathering the signatures needed to hold a recall election.

Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai relied on Clarkson’s opinion in rejecting the application.

Recall Dunleavy lawyer Scott Kendall said the filing makes clear that the application was prepared with both state law and Alaska Supreme Court precedent in mind.

“These grounds were drafted, certainly, to meet and exceed the threshold in law for a lawful recall,” Kendall said.

Wednesday’s filing says each of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s actions listed on the application meet grounds for recall in state law, including neglect of duties, incompetence and lack of fitness.

When Dunleavy failed to appoint a Palmer Superior Court judge on time, it “was an abuse of power and an effort to inject into the judicial appointment process the political considerations that the Alaska Constitution and statutes have long aimed to preclude.”

Regarding the governor’s office paying for political ads, the filing said “if the Governor claims he did not intend to violate the law or did not realize his actions violated the law, then his repeated violations of the Ethics Act and campaign finance laws establish his incompetence.”

And when the governor tied his veto of court funding to abortion-related decisions: “The Governor’s message was equivalent to saying to the courts, ‘I won’t approve the funds you need unless you decide cases the way I want.’”

In a written statement, a state Department of Law spokesperson said the department would wait to comment until after the department has a chance to review the filing and files its response.

The recall group submitted more than 46,000 signatures. If the courts allow the recall attempt to move forward, the group would need to gather more than 71,000 for a recall election to be held.

The Division of Elections has until Dec. 16 to respond to the filing.

Alaska courts must choose between a liberal or strict interpretation of recall law

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