Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - A former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Alaska who is suing Gov. Mike Dunleavy and former Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock will be substituting counsel from the ACLU of Alaska to Juneau attorney Mark Choate's law firm.
In an email Wednesday, Choate told News of the North, “I can confirm that we will be filing a Consent Order Granting Substitution of Attorney for Libby Bakalar's case against Michael Dunleavy and Tuckerman Babcock. It is being circulated right now. I hope to have it filed with the court tomorrow.”
The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Gov. Dunleavy and Babcock in 2019 on behalf of Bakalar.
Among other claims, the suit alleges constitutional violations related to resignation requests issued by the administration.
“I appreciate the ACLU’s work on my behalf in this case,” Bakalar said. “I believe in the organization and am a huge supporter of their mission. But it’s been almost two years, and very little of substance has occurred in the litigation. It’s stressful being a plaintiff in a lawsuit like this. I need to vindicate my rights and those of the state employees who have continued to work in fear under this administration since December 2018.”
According to the complaint in the Bakalar case, the ACLU alleged, among other things, that her First Amendment right to freedom of speech was violated because she was fired for her political beliefs – and maintaining a lifestyle and politically-tinged blog – while employed as an attorney in the Alaska Department of Law.
In her case, the ACLU alleged Dunleavy and Babcock “terminated [her] employment because they were unhappy with the political views expressed in [her] blog postings.”
An investigation by the Department of Law cleared Bakalar of any ethics violations in connection to the blogging. Bakalar also never took in any advertising dollars for her blog and operated it as what she calls a “hobby.”
Before he was sworn in, Dunleavy’s transition team sent an email to every at-will state employee asking them to submit letters of resignation – and to reapply for their jobs if they chose to.
While incoming administrations often make leadership changes, Dunleavy’s team said it had broadened the scope of employees asked to take the step.
Babcock, at the time, said that given the change in leadership, it was appropriate to ask employees if they “want to work for the Dunleavy administration.”
In 2018, Choate won a case against the State on behalf of the Alaska Democratic Party, in which the Alaska Supreme Court found that the State unconstitutionally prohibited the party from allowing independent voter candidates to participate in Democratic primary elections.
Bakalar is now employed as the City Attorney of Bethel.