A Juneau resident holds up an application petition to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy outside of the Planet Alaska Gallery on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

A Juneau resident holds up an application petition to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy outside of the Planet Alaska Gallery on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Recall Dunleavy files motion against Division of Elections

Campaign says refusal to certify application for recall was wrongfully done

The Recall Dunleavy campaign filed a motion for summary judgment in Anchorage Wednesday, challenging the Department of Election’s refusal to certify the campaign’s application for recall.

The state Department of Law denied the campaign’s application on Nov. 5, call its allegations “both factually and legally insufficient to meet the statutory grounds for recall,” according to a press release from DOL.

Recall Dunleavy submitted its application on Sept. 5, with a total of 49,006 signatures, far above the 28,501 needed to qualify for an application to begin the recall of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The campaign claims their application was wrongfully dismissed and the motion is part of their legal challenge to that decision. The motion gives its own rebuttals to claims written by Attorney General Kevin Clarkson on behalf of the Division of Elections.

“Essentially it goes through the grounds, details the arguments and re-enforces in so many ways that (Dunleavy is) the wrong person for the job,” said Claire Pywell, campaign manager for Recall Dunleavy.

The campaign has accused the governor of several abuses of power including using line-item vetoes to “attack the judiciary and the rule of law,” the campaign’s website says.

Pywell said that Clarkson’s reasoning in the dismissal was not based on established legal grounds.

“His opinion was improperly cobbled together,” Pywell said, “and veered far and wide from Alaska case law.”

Though not pursuing the issue on legal grounds, representatives from the campaign have pointed to a potential conflict of interest in having Clarkson, who was appointed by Dunleavy, give an opinion on the recall application.

“The memo from Kevin Clarkson was him grading his homework and no one should be surprised that he passed,” said Scott Kendall, counsel for the Recall Dunleavy campaign.

The last time a sitting governor was facing a recall campaign, during the term of Gov. Wally Hickel and Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill, the DOE sought outside counsel. Gail Fenumiai, director of DOE said in an email she can’t comment because of ongoing litigation.

The campaign is basically looking to reverse DOE’s decision and resume the recall campaign where it left off, Kendall said. They want to take their argument before a court where they believe they will receive a fair hearing.

“We’re very confident,” Kendall said. “We wrote the application with the standards that exist in mind, and we believe the courts will uphold it.”

In an email to the Empire, Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills said because the matter is before the courts, DOL will make no comment.

“We will wait until we have a chance to review their filings and provide our response when we file our opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment,” Mills wrote.

The governor’s opposition is due Dec. 16, a press release from the recall campaign said. Mills said in her email DOL does not anticipate filing a request for an extension.

Oral arguments will be heard Jan. 10, the release says. The governor’s spokesman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.

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