Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, holds a press in front of the doors to the Senate chambers on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Reinbold called the conference to respond to a letter from Gov. Mike Dunleavy saying he would no longer participate with her as chair of the Senate Judicairy Committee. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, holds a press in front of the doors to the Senate chambers on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Reinbold called the conference to respond to a letter from Gov. Mike Dunleavy saying he would no longer participate with her as chair of the Senate Judicairy Committee. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

State senator demands governor retract critical letter

Eagle River senator says Dunleavy is attacking her rights

A state senator is charging up her rhetoric in a dispute with Gov. Mike Dunleavy over a letter he sent last month.

Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, said the governor’s letter, which stated Reinbold was spreading disinformation, was an unprecedented assault on the separation of powers and amounted to an accusation of “seditious libel.”

Reinbold is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a frequent critic of mitigation measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 as well as Dunleavy’s multiple extensions of the state’s emergency disaster declaration.

“Our education system is in crisis, healthcare system enabling medical tyranny, massive government growth & dependence when our revenues are smaller,” Reinbold said in a Jan. 4 social media post. “Gov D continues to declare illegal disasters based on likely fraudulent numbers to push an agenda.”

Seriously there is some truth to this cartoon. Add that the disaster declarations can cause a bigger disaster-courtesy…

Posted by Senator Lora Reinbold on Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The state’s disaster declaration ended in mid-February.

In a Feb. 19 letter, Dunleavy said he would no longer respond to or participate in hearings led by Reinbold, saying she had used the position to misrepresent the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conflict escalated Thursday when Reinbold delivered a charged statement at a news conference held in the hallway before the Senate chambers. Reinbold said the governor’s letter had in effect charged her with “seditious libel,” and was using the power of the executive to attack the Legislative branch.

The governor’s letter was, according to Reinbold, “an attempt to intimidate those who question him and his administration and to silence those with opposing views.” She called the letter unbecoming of a governor and said it had crossed the bounds of civility.

Reinbold has been a vocal advocate of fully opening the state and applying COVID-19 health mitigation rules such as masking only to vulnerable populations such as the elderly and people with health conditions. In a meeting of the Judiciary Committee, Reinbold chastised Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum for the state’s response to the pandemic.

[Dunleavy says Reinbold misrepresents virus response]

The governor said in his letter Reinbold had issued superfluous information requests from the administration which were time-consuming and distracting government workers from their regular duties.

Reinbold sent an eight-page letter to the governor, written she said, with the assistance of her own personal constitutional attorney who is licensed in California, England, Wales and “as to state of Alaska Matters, he is associated with Alaska counsel.”

Reinbold’s letter to the governor demands a retraction of the letter and an apology. The letter references to the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta and the writings of 19th Century judge Thomas M. Cooley. Intentionally placed on the desk in the hallway were copies of Mason’s “Manual of Legislative Procedure,” a volume of Alaska statutes and a copy of “The Founder’s Bible” by David Barton.

In an email, Dunleavy spokesperson Jeff Turner said the governor would not be retracting the letter.

As chair, Reinbold has the ability to hold any bills that come through her committee. Reinbold said Thursday she had invited the governor’s administration to discuss his bills but received no response.

In a statement, Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said he hoped the two could resolve their dispute so the Senate could focus on the issues of the state.

“At this point, we see this as an issue between two adults,” he said. “We’re all grown-ups here and the public expects us to be professional and get our work done on time.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, Feb. 26, 2024

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

Former state labor commissioner Ed Flanagan, State Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, and the Rev. Michael Burke of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage wheel boxes of signed petitions into a state Division of Elections office on Jan. 9. The petitions were for a ballot initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage, mandate paid sick leave and ensure that workers are not required to hear employers’ political or religious messages. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Minimum wage increase, ranked choice repeal have enough signatures to be on ballot

A pair of ballot measures have enough public support to appear on… Continue reading

State senators meet with members of the media at the Alaska State Capitol to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Nanibaa’ Frommherz, a student at Thunder Mountain High School, testifies about a proposal to help the Juneau School District with its financial crisis during a Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night at City Hall. The meeting was moved from the Assembly Chambers to a conference room toward the end due to technical errors that disrupted the live online feed.
Little public reaction to city’s bailout of school district this year, but big questions beyond loom

Only two people testify Monday about proposed $4.1M loan and taking over $3.9 in “shared costs.”

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024

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

Mauka Grunenberg looks at live oysters for sale on Aug. 29, 2022, at Sagaya City Market in Anchorage. The oysters came from a farm in Juneau. Oysters, blue mussels and sugar, bull and ribbon kelp are the main products of an Alaska mariculture industry that has expanded greatly in recent years. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s mariculture industry expands, with big production increases in recent years, report says

While Alaska’s mariculture industry is small by global standards, production of farmed… Continue reading

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (center) walks with Alaska Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks, and Alaska Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, into the Alaska House of Representatives chambers ahead of her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Peltola celebrates federal intervention in Albertsons, Kroger merger in legislative address

Congresswoman says wins for Alaska’s fisheries and state’s economy occurring through collaboration.

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, speaks in support of Senate concurrence on a version of an education bill passed by the Alaska House last week during a Senate floor discussion on Monday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate concurs on House education bill, Dunleavy is skeptical

Dunleavy schedules press conference Tuesday afternoon in Anchorage to discuss the legislation.

Most Read