Recall against Alaska governor can proceed, court says
The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a campaign to recall Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy may proceed, arguing that the effort contains legally sufficient grounds to bring forth the matter to voters.
The state high court’s ruling followed a legal battle over a recall committee’s effort to oust Dunleavy, a former teacher and school administrator who was elected to office in 2018, over arguments that he lacked fitness and competence to serve as the state’s governor and neglected his duties.
The Recall Dunleavy Committee has specifically cited allegations that the governor violated the state Constitution by using his budget veto to punish judges for abortion-rights rulings, and that he used government funds for political purposes.
The committee on its website also lists several other allegations that it says serve as grounds for Dunleavy’s removal, including his alleged cover-up of sexual harassment accusations against former Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, who resigned in 2020 following media reports of inappropriate text messages sent to a state employee.
The group’s recall application had initially been rejected by the Alaska Division of Elections, which asserted that the committee’s claims were “not legally or factually sufficient.”
However, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that except for one allegation, which it struck down, the committee was valid in proceeding with its recall effort.
The high court upheld this ruling Friday, writing in its opinion that while it was not up to the justices to “judge the seriousness of an alleged ground,” its “task is to determine whether the recall application’s allegations are legally sufficient and are particular enough to give the targeted official fair notice of the claim.”
The court went on to say that the petition contained sufficient legal backing, adding “The people asked to sign petitions must decide whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant a recall election.”
“Each voter in the voting booth must decide whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant removal from office,” the court wrote.
Dunleavy, who has about 17 months left in his term, is just one of several governors facing recall campaigns, though California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is the only one thus far to have been forced into a recall election.
Dunleavy condemned the state supreme court’s ruling in a statement issued by his office Friday, writing that it “creates a standardless recall process, subjecting elected officials at every level, and across the political spectrum, to baseless, expensive, and distracting recall elections by their political opponents.”
“The court has made it clear that even plainly false allegations of wrongdoing can trigger this process, undermining our election process, and prevents our elected officials from focusing on the many serious issues facing Alaskans,” he added.