SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Grounds for recall of Governor insufficient; Recall group plans to challenge



November 04, 2019
Monday PM

(SitNews) – Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson completed the legal review of the application for recall of Governor Michael J. Dunleavy today and concluded that the statement of grounds for recall failed to meet the factual and legal requirements under the controlling statutes. 

“I asked the legal team to do a deep dive into the Alaska constitution, discussions at the constitutional convention, the statutes, legislative history, and case law, including looking at authorities from other states, in order to understand what standards must be met in the recall context,” said Attorney General Clarkson. “As a matter of law, recall cannot be premised upon disagreements with the elected official’s policies.”  

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With respect to the application to recall Governor Dunleavy, Attorney General Clarkson stated “in order to meet the ground for neglect of duty, which is the only legally pertinent ground here, applicants must show an inability, willful neglect, or outright illegal intent on the part of the elected official.  They must also show that this inability or intent is directly related to carrying out the substantive duties of the office. Mere procedural or technical failures are not enough. The violation must be substantial in order to qualify. Moreover, applicants must show that the elected official was personally responsible. Elected officials cannot be recalled for the acts of subordinates of which they were not aware and did not specifically authorize. The recall application failed to make these showings. The grounds of incompetence and lack of fitness, as a matter of law, were not applicable here.”

Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer sent a letter to the recall sponsors today notifying them of his review of their application for the recall of Governor Dunleavy that he is denying certification of their application. Meyers stated, "My decision is based on the legal advice received from the Attorney General that the grounds for recall do not satisfy the legal standard for the three statutory grounds for recall alleged in the application - neglect of duty, incompetence, and lack of fitness."

According to the denial letter, Meyer wrote, "The Attorney Gen4eral determined the technical requirements of the recall statues were met, however the statement of grounds for recall are not factually and legally sufficient for purposes of certification.

Governor Dunleavy wrote a public post on his official facebook page stating. "Today’s opinion by the Attorney General appears to be well reasoned. As I have always said, the allegations by the recall group are not legitimate reasons to overturn the outcome of the statewide election held barely a year ago."

Dunleavy continued, "My administration will continue governing the state as we have since the election in a manner that is consistent with the fundamentals of good government. My priorities continue to be making Alaska safer for all Alaskans, growing the economy and enacting a solution to the state’s budget deficit."

This week, the governor and First Lady Rose Dunleavy are visiting Japan.

An afternoon news release from the Claire Pywell, Campaign Manager of the RECALL DUNLEAVY CAMPAIGN, stated the group's recall effort will seek to overturn today's decision by the Alaska Division of Elections.

The Recall Dunleavy group is challenging the Division of Elections' decision to deny its application to begin collecting signatures in the second phase of the recall process. The petition application was signed by 49,006 Alaskans and submitted September 5, 2019.

"Without question, the recall application submitted to the Division of Elections meets the standard under Alaska law. This rejection is without basis, and we will now turn to the courts for a remedy. We do so with confidence that we will receive fair treatment and we will prevail," said Jahna Lindemuth, Counsel to Recall Dunleavy. "Alaskans should expect a prompt resolution on this dispute. The recall will continue forward."

According to the Recall Dunleavy group's news release, once the application is certified by the courts, the group can begin collecting the 71,252 signatures necessary to put the recall to a vote. Petition booklets can then be distributed across the state to communities that await the opportunity to sign again in the second phase of the recall movement.

"We're grateful for the overwhelming support we continue to see from Alaskans who share the concerns about the damage that this Governor is doing to our state. Alaskans will have the change to stand tall and make their voices heard. It is heartening that Alaskans from across the political spectrum give this effort its strength and momentum, Said Derek Reed, Recall Dunleavy Steering Committee member.

Primary sponsors of the recall are Joseph E. Usibelli Sr., Arliss Sturgulewski and Victor Fischer.

The recall application provided the following 158-word alleged grounds for recall: Neglect of Duties, Incompetence, and/or Lack of Fitness, for the following actions....

1. Governor Dunleavy violated Alaska law by refusing to appoint a judge to the Palmer Superior Court within 45 days of receiving nominations.

2. Governor Dunleavy violated Alaska 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 to purchase electronic advertisements and direct mailers making partisan statements about political opponents and supporters.

3. Governor Dunleavy violated separation-of-powers by improperly using the line-item veto to: (a) attack the judiciary and the rule of law; and (b) preclude the legislature from upholding its constitutional Health, Education and Welfare responsibilities.

4. Governor Dunleavy acted incompetently when he mistakenly vetoed approximately $18 million more than he told the legislature in official communications he intended to strike. Uncorrected, the error would cause the state to lose over $40 million in additional federal Medicaid funds.

Read the Opinion released today the the Alaska Attorney General in which each of the above alleged grounds for recall are individually addressed.



On the Web:

Recall Petition: Statement of Grounds 

Application Denied – November 4, 2019 - Application Denied Letter 

Application Signature Review

|11/04/19 Attorney General Opinion: AGO No 2019200686



Source of News:

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer

Office of Alaska Department of Law

Recall Dunleavy group





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