By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Political enemies of the Republican governor of Alaska have sufficient legal grounds to continue their campaign to remove him from office through a recall election, the state’s highest court ruled on Friday.
The campaign to remove Governor Mike Dunleavy, who has about 17 months left in his term, is legal and can continue, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled.
Whether Dunleavy’s detractors have argued that his alleged shortcomings, that he is incompetent and corrupt, justify his removal is up to the voters, the court said.
“The people asked to sign the petitions must decide whether the allegations are serious enough to warrant a recall election; Each voter in the voting booth must decide if the allegations are serious enough to justify removal from office, ”the opinion said.
Dunleavy, a former teacher, school administrator and legislator representing Wasilla, was elected governor in 2018, positioning himself as a political acolyte to then-US President Donald Trump. His tenure has been difficult as Alaska struggled with financial difficulties and its dependence on dwindling oil revenues.
The governor’s enemies argue that he deserves to be called because he is unfit and has abused his power. Among the reasons cited by recall supporters, Duleavy is accused of illegally using his budget veto to punish judges for rulings on abortion rights and violating ethics laws by using state funds for partisan campaign purposes.
To qualify for a governor recall for the Alaska ballot, activists must complete a two-phase test, collecting petition signatures for a total of 10 percent of the votes cast in the previous state election and subsequently collecting signatures. for a total of 25 percent of the votes cast. The Recall Dunleavy campaign reported it had 81 percent of the required signatures from the second phase in April.
In a statement Friday, Dunleavy criticized the court’s ruling, saying it will subject elected officials to “unfounded, costly and distracting impeachment elections for their political opponents.”
Dunleavy faced other problems in addition to the threat of withdrawal.
In a showdown with the legislature, he vetoed the entire Alaska Permanent Fund dividend this year, a precious payment from oil wealth to residents that has been made annually since 1982.
This week, CNBC ranked Alaska’s business climate last among the 50 US states CNBC specifically cited Dunleavy’s actions, saying it “relentlessly slashed” funding from the University of Alaska and made other bad decisions.
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