Lawyers for the Recall Dunleavy campaign say Attorney General Kevin Clarkson ignored case law and previous legal opinions when he “unlawfully recommended” the group’s application for petitions be denied.

Campaign lawyers filed briefs on Wednesday, kicking off a scheduled exchange of written arguments leading up to a Jan. 10 hearing.

On Nov. 4, the Division of Elections denied the group’s application for a petition, based on Clarkson’s legal opinion challenging the grounds.

In those grounds, the campaign alleges Dunleavy:

  • Violated Alaska law when he originally refused to appoint a judge to the Palmer Superior Court within 45 days of receiving nominations;
  • Violated state law and the constitution and misused state funds by unlawfully and without proper disclosure, authorizing using state funds for partisan purposes;
  • Ignored separation of powers using line-item veto to attack the judiciary and keep the Legislature from upholding its constitutional health, education and welfare duties;
  • Acted incompetently by mistakenly vetoing $18 million more than he told the Legislature. Uncorrected, the state could have lost $40 million in federal Medicaid funds.

Clarkson said the grounds were neither “factually nor legally sufficient and therefore not substantially in the form required by [state law].”

The campaign far exceeded the minimum number of signatures required to receive petition books, but — as anticipated by both sides — the legal grounds are being challenged in court.

The campaign’s attorneys filed a summary judgement motion Wednesday outlining its rebuttal.

In a 55-page brief, the campaign wrote:

“Ignoring case law, prior Attorney General opinions addressing recalls, and the Alaska Supreme Court’s direction to liberally construe recall statutes, Attorney General Clarkson unlawfully recommended denying the application by ratcheting up and narrowing the meanings of grounds—lack of fitness, incompetence, and neglect of duties—as well as the requirement that the grounds be 'described in particular in not more than 200 words.'”

The Department of Law has until Dec. 16 to respond to the campaign’s position.

Earnest recall efforts kicked off Aug. 1 with statewide signature gathering beginning early that morning in Juneau outside a downtown gift shop.

The group needed to collect 28,501 valid registered voter signatures. One month later, more than 49,000 were submitted to the Alaska Division of Elections.

The Division of Elections said there were “sufficient qualifying signatures and the technical requirements of the recall statutes were met.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there have been several attempts to recall governors in the U.S., but only three advanced to a recall election.

In 1921, Gov. Lynn J. Frazier of North Dakota, a Republican, became the first governor to be recalled along with his attorney general and agriculture commissioner. In 2003, California voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat who was replaced by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Seven years ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, survived voters’ efforts to unseat him. 

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