Everyone has had enough of covid-denying, conspiracy-embracing, extreme-right Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold, including Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
In a scathing letter sent to Reinbold, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dunleavy told her that she had betrayed the public trust by spreading continued disinformation about the state’s response the covid pandemic, has wasted the administration’s time with “many superfluous inquiries” and that he has directed the entire administration to cease working with her, her office or her committee in any capacity.
A copy of the letter was obtained and published by the Alaska Landmine. Find the full letter here.
“People can disagree and do so vehemently; that marketplace of ideas is intrinsic to a republican democratic form of government,” he wrote. “When those entrusted by the people, imbued with the dignity and authority of an office affording them the power to change the laws of the land, and to hold the power of the public purse, engage in direct affronts to those responsibilities, they dishonor their office and should be publicly condemned for their conduct.”
Over the first month of session, Reinbold has held several hearings on the governor’s pandemic response despite having no legislation in her committee relating to the pandemic. The hearings have featured loads of disinformation on vaccines, wild hyperbole about the state’s response to the pandemic and baseless claims that the governor is going to implement martial law. One meeting she told members that they could take their masks off against the Legislature’s clear rules. She’s also given platform to extreme-right fringe speakers. This Friday’s hearing is scheduled to include testimony from Simone Gold, a noted proponent of hydroxychloroquine who was arrested for her involvement in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
As a member of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee, Reinbold has also frequently derailed the meeting to lambaste the state’s public health officials suggesting that they’re lying to Alaskans about the vaccine. She’s also frequently complained about the Dunleavy administration’s responses to her questions or refusals to participate in her committee hearings. It’s all been too much for the governor.
“You have used your position as a member of the Alaska State Senate to publicly misrepresent the State of Alaska’s response to the global health crisis. You impugned the motivations of unelected and non-political employees working for the State of Alaska with baseless allegations that, on multiple occasions, were demonstrated to you to be false,” the governor wrote. “Time and again, when provided the information unequivocally illustrating the blatant inaccuracies in your public statements about the State of Alaska’s health responses, you persisted in continuing to betray the public trust with those statements. You deceived the people of Alaska about their government’s response to the largest public health crisis in a century. In doing so, you violated the obligation you have, as a member of the Legislature, to promoting and protecting the public health.”
The opening of his letter suggests that she has “abdicated the tenets of your oath as a public servant,” and suggests her actions have violated the Legislature’s rules, the Legislative Ethics Act and the Alaska Legislature Professional Workplace Conduct Policy but said “your continued qualifications as a member of the Legislature is a matter best determined by the voters.”
The letter says the state has dedicated considerable resources to responding to Reinbold’s questions to no avail. “Since you have been, up until now, either incapable or unwilling to read the responses from employees in the various state agencies under my constitutional authority, let me be clear with you: I have never imposed martial law or forced Alaskans to take the COVID-19 vaccine.”
He says his administration is done working with her in any capacity, a remarkable move for the administration. Though the administration had been reluctant to participate in oversight hearings held by the House during the pandemic, they have never gone to these lengths.
“This letter serves as notice that all officials and staff, employed and serving the State of Alaska’s Executive Branch of government, will not be responding, or participating, in any matter that pertains to yourself, your office, or, currently, in your capacity as the chair of a committee,” he wrote. “The resources of the State of Alaska are not yours to abuse for your own, as yet undiscernible, personal benefit. It is lamentable that the good citizens of Eagle River and Chugiak are deprived of meaningful representation by the actions of the person holding the office of Senator. I will not continue subject the public resources of the State of Alaska to the mockery of a charade, disguised as public purpose.”