Recall Dunleavy submits complaint after rejection

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A day after the Division of Elections denied the Recall Dunleavy initiative, the group has filed a complaint against the state asking to have that decision overturned.

"We technically had 30 days to do this, we took action on day one," said Claire Pywell, campaign manager for Recall Dunleavy. "So we want people to understand that we were prepared for this."

The legal complaint is directed at the Division of Elections, but it is in fact the Department of Law who recommended the rejection.

In the Department of Law's opinion, it wrote that while the recall petition, while meeting all the technical requirements of a recall petition, was "neither factually nor legally sufficient" when stating the grounds for recall.

Scott Kendall, counsel to the Recall Group, said in a press release that they were not surprised by the Division of Elections' decision but that he thought it was unfair.

"Rather than provide the Division of Elections with independent counsel as he should, Clarkson took it on himself to essentially grade his own homework. It should come as no surprise he gave himself a passing grade,” said Kendall.

The complaint, filed in Anchorage Superior Court on Tuesday, notes that whether or not the grounds are factual is irrelevant to whether or not the Division of Elections should approve a recall petition.

"The Director must assume the factual allegations listed in the application are true for purposes of this determination," wrote attorney Jahna Lindemuth, formerly the attorney general for Gov. Bill Walker.

The Recall group has said that the petition was designed from the start to fit into the specific legal requirements for a recall. The state statute is direct about what these are:

The grounds for recall are (1) lack of fitness, (2) incompetence, (3) neglect of duties, or (4) corruption.

The language of the recall petition notes that the governor "acted incompetently" when he mistakenly vetoed $18 million from the state budget - something the Department of Law said was a result of a "scrivener's error" - and that he neglected his duties when he failed to appoint a judge to the Palmer Superior court within 45 days - something the Department of Law says is just a "procedural violation" in its opinion.

The Recall Dunleavy campaign also lists that the governor violated separation-of-powers with the judiciary by withholding money from the courts over abortion funding and with the legislature over the battle over forward-funding education, and that he misused state funds when spending on mailers making "partisan statements."

The complaint filed Tuesday asks that the petition be restored and that requiring the Division of Elections to print the petition booklets for the next round fo signature-gathering. It also asks the state to recompense attorneys' fees to the Recall Campaign.

Pywell said she was not sure how long it would take for a ruling to be made.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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