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Alaska recall group challenges application denial

November 6, 2019 GMT
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FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2019 file photo, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announces at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, that he has signed an administrative order directing state officials to create a program where state employees can opt in or out from having union fees and dues deducted from their checks. A group seeking to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is asking a judge to allow their effort to move forward. Attorneys for the Recall Dunleavy campaign, in court papers filed Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 say Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai wrongly refused to certify the recall application. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
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FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2019 file photo, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announces at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, that he has signed an administrative order directing state officials to create a program where state employees can opt in or out from having union fees and dues deducted from their checks. A group seeking to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is asking a judge to allow their effort to move forward. Attorneys for the Recall Dunleavy campaign, in court papers filed Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 say Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai wrongly refused to certify the recall application. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A group seeking to recall Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy filed a legal complaint Tuesday, saying a state elections official erred in not allowing the recall effort to proceed.

The Recall Dunleavy campaign also filed court documents seeking to have the matter fast-tracked, with arguments in early December.

“There is no legitimate reason for delay,” Jahna Lindemuth, an attorney for the group and a former state attorney general, wrote in an affidavit filed Tuesday.

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said Monday she relied on legal advice from Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, a Dunleavy appointee, who found the statement of grounds for recall to be “factually and legally deficient.”

Clarkson’s opinion concluded the allegations failed to meet the listed grounds for recall, which were neglect of duty, incompetence or lack of fitness.

Among its claims, the recall group said the Republican governor violated the law by not appointing a judge within a required timeframe, misused state funds for partisan online ads and mailers, and improperly used his veto authority to “attack the judiciary.”

Scott Kendall, a lawyer for the recall group, called the rejection expected.

The decision is being appealed on behalf of those “who signed on to exercise their constitutional right to remove Gov. Dunleavy from office,” Kendall said in a statement.

More than 46,000 of the roughly 49,000 signatures the group said it turned in were verified as qualified. The group needed 28,501 as part of its application.

If the recall were to go forward, there would be a second round of signature gathering, in which more than 71,000 signatures would be needed.