AG opinion: Recall grounds are insufficient - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, November 28, 2021
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AG opinion: Recall grounds are insufficient

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Attorney General Kevin Clarkson announced today that the stated reasons for a recall of Gov. Michael Dunleavy are insufficient, “failing to meet factual and legal requirements under the controlling statutes.”

“I asked the legal team to do a deep dive into the Alaska constitution, discussions at the constitutional convention, the statutes, legislative history, and case law, including looking at authorities from other states, in order to understand what standards must be met in the recall context,” said Attorney General Clarkson in a statement. “As a matter of law, recall cannot be premised upon disagreements with the elected official’s policies.” 

With respect to the application to recall Dunleavy, Clarkson stated, “in order to meet the ground for neglect of duty, which is the only legally pertinent ground here, applicants must show an inability, willful neglect, or outright illegal intent on the part of the elected official.  They must also show that this inability or intent is directly related to carrying out the substantive duties of the office.

“Mere procedural or technical failures are not enough. The violation must be substantial in order to qualify. Moreover, applicants must show that the elected official was personally responsible. Elected officials cannot be recalled for the acts of subordinates of which they were not aware and did not specifically authorize.  The recall application failed to make these showings. The grounds of incompetence and lack of fitness, as a matter of law, were not applicable here.”

Click here to review the Attorney General Opinion.

The recall application was submitted on September 5, 2019. Director Fenumiai requested that the Department of Law complete its legal review within 60 days, despite the lack of any statutory timeline to make a decision. The Department of Law met the requested timeline and submitted its opinion to the director on November 4, 2019.

Director of the Division of Elections Gail Fenumiai notified the sponsors today that, based on the conclusions in the Attorney General opinion, certification was denied. Recall Dunleavy and any other interested party have 30 days to challenge the denial of certification.

For more information, see the Division of Elections website.

Check back, as this story will be updated.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Actually I was hoping the recall would go forward, then go down in flames like the Stand For Salmon vote went. What could be more beautiful than that?

  • Can we put Mr. Clarkson in touch with Adam Schiff?

    • To what end? Clarkson is a straight shooter. Schiff is the point liar in chief for the out-of-luck Democrats.

  • This is a great day for Alaska. We have the best Governor at a time when we really needed a true leader to get our state back on a fiscally sustainable track. Thanks to Governor Dunleavy for staying true to the people of Alaska including not only those who voted for him but the liberals who are too blind to realize what a great statesman our Governor is.

    • I very much agree with you George

  • Love it! Hahahaha the PATHETIC recall fails! Hahahahahahahahaha

  • Nothing unexpected here…will be interesting to hear what the judge has to say when this heads to court.

    • It’s over before it started. You can’t make stuff up just because you lose an election then ask for a litmus test. You might not like the results.

    • Agreed. No real surprise here. And I won’t be surprised when the judge uses this opinion as a napkin.

      • You mean like the one Alice Rogoff wrote to Tony Hopfinger promising to buy him out of the ADN and he sued her in court with it and won?

      • ……….or toilet tissue.

    • The judiciary needs to be careful here, for the easier they make it to remove a governor, the easier they make it to remove them. Cheers –

      • Please explain this logic. One group can be recalled, the other only periodically needs retention.
        Your comment appears to be wishful thinking, rather than logic.

      • Judges are not subject to recall according to the Alaska Constitution.
        But they are subject to periodic retention votes.

        • And they can recuse themselves from cases for making prejudicial statements about a case that they are likely to decide on. Also, judges can be disciplined for stepping outside the bounds of judicial ethics and professional responsibility.

          • Yessir Marla, and there are a lot of Republican senators who’ve made predudicial statements about Don Trump’s impeachment and do you expect any of them to recuse themselves? Not going to happen IMO.

  • We are just killing time here until Dunleavy gets his appointment from Don Trump. Heheh!

    • I think he is in for a longer haul than that. Historically, those positions only last a couple of years.

  • Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Communists and RINOs begin once again.

  • This ruling, although absolutely justified, is going to trigger the virtue signalling crowd.

    Let’s have a moment of silence for those poor recall Dunleavy apparatchiks who are crying into their Soylent drinks tonight.

  • The whole recall effort was so wrong headed from the start – hate filled remarks and ads and total misrepresentation of facts designed to divide Alaskans and pit one against another….We have problems with the way the State has done business and things must change, and only by working together can we effect the positive change needed…

  • Eat your shorts out, Scott Kendall. AG Clarkson is the man.

    • Kendall has shorts? Thought he was a free-styler with his old boss Byron Mallott.

      • Jahna Lindemuth can join Scott Kendall and Byron Mallott. All three, the BIG losers in 2019.

  • This was predicted by everyone. The victory dance is purely an emotional response. The courts will soon send this back to all the people who will get to make the final decision.

    • The people already made a final decision, EL. It was called the election of 2018 in which Mike Dunleavy beat the hell out of his opponents….the shamed, grifter Bill Walker and the feckless, loser Mark Begich. You Democrats who lose, want the courts to be the final arbitor, not the people. Problem is…..the courts are already on record of being activists. This subjects them to their own fairness and impartiality test. Judicial ethics will require the courts to recuse themselves. Democrats are corrupt. The people will win again.

  • Get ready for the wailing, gnashing of teeth, and protestations of malfeasance from the Trump/Dunleavy haters. He gored their ox so he must be removed. Logic and the law will have no effect them. At least their future legal shenanigans will cost a lot of money, and will eventually fail.
    God bless America…as founded.

    • And with apologies to Mongo, whose comments I hadn’t read before my post.

  • I always felt the recall effort was on shaky ground, this proves it.

  • I would hate to see precedent set that emboldens recall efforts and makes such political maneuvering the norm. The people of the State of Alaska have voted, respect it and wait for the next election cycle if you don’t like someone’s political approach to solving the State of Alaska’s fiscal crisis.

  • I am confident that the Left will be apoplectic over this opinion. It is a rational analysis. That said, the Left can appeal the decision to the Superior Court, which is populated by mostly folks of the Left, and the Alaska Supreme Court, which is capable of almost anything. They may start out by citing Griswold v. Connecticut or some other nonsense. It will be a while until the fat lady sings on this puppy.

  • I love it… Now they need to get to work and stop throwing out roadblocks… Now watch them froth at the mouth because they didn’t get their way.

  • Money, like so many other things, is a limited resource. There’s only so much of it to go around. I have to make choices every day when I run my home in order to live within my financial means. The State should do the same. This governor is trying to seriously address state spending and put Alaska on a sustainable financial path for its future. Unfortunately there is a segment that want an ever increasing share of the money. They want it to the point they will take everyone’s dividend & insist on an unnecessary state income tax to provide them a never ending supply of other peoples money. We need to stand next to this governor and support him in his efforts.

  • Who didn’t see this coming?

    “Big man mean” is not grounds for impeachment, um, recall.

  • It sounds like Attorney General Clarkson was only supposed to determine whether the recall case was presented in proper form, while not personally determining the substance of the accusations.

    Since Attorney General Clarkson was appointed by the Governor, his opinion on the veracity of the charges could constitute a conflict of interest, so the Courts should be employed to look at that situation impartially.

    That so many people did sign the recall petition without knowing very specifically what the charges would be suggests that these people do have some question in their minds over the the way the Governor has conducted his decision making, party politics aside.

    While I am not thrilled over some of the complaints laid out in the recall presentation, I see other problems the Governor has caused that seem very questionable, so the recall still has my support. For examples, some people are disappointed that the full PFD amount promised did not materialize. That the Court System had funds cut over what seemed to be a personal opinion on abortion bothers me, and not just me.

    The Courts need to determine the substance of the recall effort, not only the Attorney General.

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