Attorneys for Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his chief of staff, Tuckerman Babcock, have requested a federal jury trial in a lawsuit brought against the two men by former state employees who claim they were illegally fired.

Anchorage attorney Linda Johnson filed the governor's request Friday in federal court, along with a response to January suits first filed in state court by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Bakalar, plus two state physicians.

Bakalar, along with two former Alaska Psychiatric Institute staff members, John Bellville and Anthony Blanford, were plaintiffs in a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Alaska office. The three were among hundreds of state employees asked to submit resignation letters for their posts and reapply for their jobs shortly before Dunleavy was sworn in.

Bakalar, who has a wide-ranging blog that takes an often self-deprecating look at family life but also periodically takes aim at President Donald Trump, sent a letter and was fired.

Blanford and Bellville did not submit a letter and were fired. Blanford was since rehired by Wellpath Recovery Solutions, the company now managing API under a sole-source contract.

Bakalar's suit is separate from the one filed by Blanford and Bellville.

As non-political state hires, all three said a refusal to pledge loyalty to Dunleavy is what got them fired.

Dunleavy and Babcock’s attorney, Johnson, also filed a response to both suits denying the allegations. Part of Johnson's initial defense stated that Bakalar “has intentionally sought media attention to bolster her claims, and thereby caused, in whole or in part, her own damages.”

Johnson also wrote that Dunleavy and Babcock were “entitled to discretionary and absolute immunity,” and “are protected by executive privilege.”

The Department of Law hired Johnson's firm to represent the state. The contract calls for the state to pay no more than $150,000 to defend Dunleavy and Babcock, including out-of-pocket expenses.

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