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 Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 8

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Man dies after being struck by truck while laying in drive-through lane near Mendenhall post office

Armando Sanchez, 38, struck during early morning hours of June 1; JPD notified of death Tuesday.

Curtis Davis sharpens a spike at his makeshift campsite near Juneau International Airport on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
With no official place to camp, homeless and neighborhoods alike are suffering miseries

Complaints to JPD nearly double, social agencies seek “safety zone,” many campers just want peace.

Alaska Supreme Court Justice Peter Maassen receives applause from his fellow justices and members of the Alaska Legislature during the annual State of the Judiciary address on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy will be asked to pick fourth state Supreme Court justice

Applications being accepted to replace Peter Maassen, who reaches mandatory retirement age next year

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 10, 2024

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

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska ranked choice repeal measure wins first round of legal challenge, but trial awaits

Correction: The initial version of this article incorrectly listed Alaskans for Better… Continue reading

Juneau resident Ajah Rose Bishop, 21, suffered severe spinal injuries in a single-vehicle accident early Saturday morning. (GoFundMe fundraiser photo)
Woman breaks spine in single-vehicle collision on Egan Drive early Saturday morning

21-year-old Juneau resident medivaced to Anchorage, online fundraising effort underway.

Shannan Greene (left) and Sharyn Augustine hold signs on April 27 urging residents to sign recall petitions for Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen and Vice President Emil Mackey due to their roles in a budget crisis for the current fiscal year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
School board recall petitions submitted; supporters of Saturday cruise ship ban need more signatures

Third initiative seeking to repeal default by-mail elections also has 10 days to get more signers.

Most Read