Group opposed to Dunleavy recall effort withdraws from Alaska Supreme Court case

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Stand Tall With Mike, an independent expenditure group fighting the effort to recall Gov. Michael Dunleavy, said Tuesday that it would withdraw its appeal from the Alaska Supreme Court citing court rulings last week that rendered further participation by the group an unproductive use of its resources.

Last Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that petition booklets must be printed by the Division of Elections in the effort to recall the governor from office.

Stand Tall with Mike says the court issued that ruling "despite concerns from the trial court that allowing the process to continue before a final decision was reached would cause voter confusion and irreparable harm," according to a release from the group.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills says the State of Alaska's role in the appeals process is unchanged by the withdrawal of Stand Tall with Mike.

"The State appealed, and will continue with its appeal, because it believes that the Attorney General’s opinion and the Division’s decision were correct and that these issues need to be addressed by the Alaska Supreme Court," Mills told Channel 2 in an email.

In January, the group argued that if the Alaska Supreme Court invalidates part of the recall application during or after the signature-gathering effort, it would lead to more legal disputes and create confusion.

On Jan. 29, a stay was ordered by Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth, temporarily halting the recall effort. The order for a stay was based on the possibility for voter confusion if the Supreme Court reversed or modified any of the provisions on the recall petition.

"From the court's perspective, if we have members of the public making decisions 'Am I going to sign this petition booklet or not,' they're looking at grounds and they're making that decision. If they sign it one day and all the grounds that I've approved thus far are there and the Supreme Court says 'Judge Aarseth you made a mistake, and there's a couple of grounds that shouldn't have been there,' that is going to create confusion. And from the court's perspective, confusion equals harm," Aarseth said in his ruling.

In its decision Friday, the Supreme Court determined that Aarseth did not consider the potential harm to Recall Dunleavy by ordering the stay. “The loss of several months of signature-gathering in this process is at least a 'not inconsiderable' injury,” the order from the Supreme Court reads.

Now, Stand Tall with Mike says it will reallocate resources toward a public messaging campaign against the recall.

"Stand Tall With Mike believes the public is better served by devoting resources to educating the public why this recall is unjustified, a waste of public resources, an affront to the 145,000 Alaskans who voted for this Governor, and a distraction from the critical issues facing Alaskans," the group's release says.

According to a briefing schedule released by the Supreme Court, oral arguments will be heard on March 25 and a decision could be rendered as soon as that evening or the following day.

The group cites the "blistering" pace of the appeals process as unnecessary, arguing that the case involves constitutional questions that deserve careful consideration.

"It is clear the Court is determined to let the recall effort go forward before it has even reviewed the parties’ legal briefings," Stand Tall with Mike's release reads. "Stand Tall with Mike will place its trust in the voters, not unelected judges, to protect the integrity of our elections, now and into the future."

Stand Tall With Mike was founded as a super PAC-style independent expenditure group, in September of 2019, with the purpose to “oppose the signature collection effort to recall Governor Dunleavy,” according to the group's campaign disclosure form.

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