Juneauites gathered signatures to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy in late February. Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled the recall effort could proceed. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire File)

Juneauites gathered signatures to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy in late February. Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled the recall effort could proceed. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire File)

Alaska Supreme Court: Recall effort can proceed

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday that an effort to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy can proceed.

  • By BECKY BOHRER Associated Press
  • Friday, May 8, 2020 4:57pm
  • News


Associated Press

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday that an effort aimed at recalling Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office can proceed, a movement initially fueled by public outrage over spending cuts he’d proposed.

The court had previously allowed the Recall Dunleavy campaign to proceed with a second signature-gathering phase while it heard the case. The campaign must gather 71,252 signatures in a bid to force a recall election. It has reported gathering more than 34,000 signatures so far.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, just two governors have been recalled by voters — California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker withstood a 2012 recall challenge.

Dunleavy, who took office in December 2018, has argued the recall effort is political. He agreed to reverse or moderate some of the vetoes that spurred outrage. His administration this year requested additional funds for Medicaid after the level of cuts sought last year didn’t pan out.

The court’s brief written order affirms a Superior Court decision; a full opinion explaining the order is expected later. Justice Craig Stowers dissented with part of the decision.

Claire Pywell, the campaign’s manager, called Friday’s decision huge.

“We know that we still deserve a governor that follows the law and that shares our values and acts in our best interests,” she said. “And it’s go time.”

Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, in a statement, said the court “ignored Alaska’s constitutional history and has effectively rewritten our Constitution and statutes to adopt no-cause political recall. By the Court’s decision, from this point forward any elected official will be subject to recall for virtually any reason.” Clarkson is a Dunleavy appointee who was confirmed by the state Legislature.

Jeff Turner, a Dunleavy spokesperson, said the governor’s communications office does not comment on the recall issue.

The state’s elections director in November rejected the recall application, citing an attorney general opinion that found the reasons listed for recall were “factually and legally deficient.” Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth later ruled all but one allegation against Dunleavy could proceed. The Department of Law appealed.

Grounds for recall in Alaska are lack of fitness, incompetence, neglect of duties or corruption.

The recall campaign said the governor violated the law by not appointing a judge within a required time frame, misused state funds for partisan online ads and mailers and improperly used his veto authority to “attack the judiciary.”

The group also said Dunleavy mistakenly vetoed more funds than he told lawmakers he intended to cut and that the action could have cost the state Medicaid dollars if not corrected.

• This is an Associated Press report.

More in News

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree gets a standing ovation from the Alaska State Legislature as he enters the House chamber Wednesday to deliver his final State of the Judiciary speech. Winfree is stepping down next Monday when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Chief justice bids lawmakers a fervent farewell

Daniel Winfree, in State of Judiciary days before retirement, warns about mixing politics and courts

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, stands in the well of the House Chambers with other Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to hear Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., deliver remarks shortly after becoming the new minority leader on Jan. 6. The speech came after a nearly weeklong stalemate by Republicans in electing a speaker after they won a narrow majority in November’s election. (Screenshot from C-SPAN video feed)
Peltola learning the House party is over

Distractions and inaction replace honeymoon headlines as Alaska’s new rep joins minority.

Most Read