Recall Dunleavy group files legal complaint to appeal denied application
The Recall Dunleavy campaign had 30 days to appeal the Division of Elections’ certification denial. It needed only one.
The campaign’s attorneys on Tuesday morning filed a legal challenge in Anchorage Superior Court.
In the six-page appeal, attorneys wrote: “The Director has unlawfully denied Recall Dunleavy and the citizens of Alaska the opportunity to exercise their constitutional and statutory right to recall public officials by refusing to certify the recall application.”
On Monday, the Division of Elections relied on a legal opinion written by Attorney General for Alaska Kevin Clarkson, who disputed Recall Dunleavy’s legal grounds.
Recall law requires submitting legal grounds in 200 words or fewer to the division of elections along with 28,501 valid registered voter signatures. The Division of Elections ruled the campaign had satisfied the signature requirement with over 49,000 submitted in September.
The campaign's supporters cited three grounds: neglect of duty; incompetence; and lack of fitness. They did not accuse Dunleavy of corruption.
- Dunleavy violated Alaska law when he originally refused to appoint a judge to the Palmer Superior Court within 45 days of receiving nominations. Clarkson wrote, “the statutory timeframe alone does not amount to a substantive duty.”
- Violated state law and the constitution and misused state funds by unlawfully and without proper disclosure, authorizing and allowing the use of state funds for partisan purposes. Clarkson wrote, ”without further facts of what occurred, it is hard to discern exactly what the wrongful conduct was.
- Ignored separation of power by using line-item veto to attack the judiciary and preclude the legislature from upholding its constitutional health, education and welfare responsibilities. Clarkson wrote, “the governor’s use of constitutionally granted line-item veto authority is absolutely legal, purely discretionary and disputes over policy cannot be grounds for recall.”
- Acted incompetently by mistakenly vetoing $18 million more than he told the legislature in official communication. Uncorrected, the state could lose $40 million in federal Medicaid funds. Clarkson called it a mistake, saying “One scrivner’s error does not amount to lack of knowledge, skills or professional judgement to perform the discretionary duty of line-item vetoes on an appropriations bill.”
On Tuesday Recall Dunleavy lawyers wrote:
“The director must look at whether the allegations listed in the application fall under one of the enumerated grounds (in this case, neglect of duties, incompetence, and lack of fitness) for recall. The Director must assume the factual allegations listed in the application are true for purposes of determination.
“The Director, relying on the advice of Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, nevertheless denied the certification of Recall Dunleavy’s recall application because, in his opinion, none of the actions qualifies as a valid ground for recall.”
The attorneys later wrote the “refusal to certify the recall application is incorrect as a matter of law.”
The appeal was filed by law firms Holmes Weddle & Barcott PC, Summit Law Group and Reeves Amodio.
Attorneys include former Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, former Chief of Staff Scott Kendall — both under Gov. Bill Walker — Samuel G. Gottstein, Jeff Feldman and Susan Orlansky.
They want the courts to declare the Recall Dunleavy application valid, provide petition books to collect another round of signatures and award attorneys' fees to the group.
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