The group seeking to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office filed a motion for summary judgment Wednesday afternoon.
The motion, filed as part of a larger lawsuit by the group and asking the courts to judge in its favor without a full trial, outlines what the group considers to be the “wrongful refusal” to certify the recall application turned in over two months ago.
Vic Fisher, a signer of the Alaska Constitution and co-chair of the Recall Dunleavy group, said he felt legal reasons outlined in the original application should not have been questioned.
“The Alaska Constitution expressly grants the people the right to recall public officials, and our grounds are solid,” Fischer said. “Enough with the politicking. The people are asking for permission to vote and express their will. It is for the voters to decide whether the facts in the recall summary are an accurate basis for each claim and whether they wish to recall the official.”
The group called Dunleavy’s actions as governor “careless” and “illegal.”
One particular issue that the group says calls into question the separation of powers spelled out in the state’s Constitution is that of Dunleavy’s vetoing of funds from the judicial branch on the basis of his disagreement with a previous ruling on abortion. The ruling, issued before Dunleavy took office, reaffirmed the court’s stance that it was unlawful to regulate whether Medicaid funding could pay for abortions.
In his veto, Dunleavy wrote that he cut the exact amount from the court’s budget that was spent in 2018 on elective abortions.
“The governor’s message (supporting vetoing judiciary funds) was equivalent to saying to the courts, ‘I won’t approve the funds you need unless you decide cases the way I want,’” the summary judgment request reads. “If that type of action is tolerated, Alaska will cease to have a truly independent judiciary or three coequal branches of government.”
State law designates only a few legal grounds upon which a public official can be recalled: lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties and corruption.
In his memo rejecting the recall application, Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson outlined his stance that neglect of duty was “the only legally pertinent ground” in the application but that it still wasn’t enough.
This didn’t sit well with the recall group.
“It’s clear this administration believes it’s only bound by some laws, and not by others,” said Jim Dodson, Recall Dunleavy Steering Committee member. “Alaskans deserve a governor who will do his duty to faithfully follow the law as required by the Alaska Constitution.”
Dodson is one of the Fairbanks members of the steering committee.
The governor’s opposition to the motion is due Dec. 16. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Jan. 10.
This is the most recent development in a monthslong process launched by the Recall Dunleavy group in August. Here is a timeline of the events so far:
Aug. 1: Recall Dunleavy effort launched.
Sept. 5: Recall group submits 49,006 signatures and legal brief outlining reasons for recall.
Nov. 4: Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, at the advice of Clarkson, rejects the group’s proposed legal reasons for recall.
Nov. 5: Recall Dunleavy appeals recall rejection with Anchorage Superior Court and requests expedited case hearing with the courts.
Nov. 14: Scheduling hearing sets oral arguments for Jan. 10.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.