Group to recall governor collects signatures

Petition claims Murkowski violated the public trust through tax incentives

Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2004

A group of Alaskans in Anchorage began gathering signatures Wednesday in an effort to recall Gov. Frank Murkowski and Lt. Gov. Loren Leman.

The group cited incompetence, neglect of duties and lack of fitness for office as reasons for the recall.

When asked about the accusations against Murkowski, the governor's office stated: "The inquiry does not merit a response."

Soren Wuerth, an organizer for "Alaskans to Recall Murkowski," said the group is charging Murkowski with violating the public trust by squandering public resources through tax incentives provided to oil companies last year.

Wuerth also said Murkowski backed out on campaign promises to not touch the Alaska Permanent Fund without a vote of the people.

He noted that the governor signed a bill last year that diverted 25 percent of mineral royalties paid into the permanent fund to the state general fund, which is used to pay for state government.

"He didn't take it out of the Permanent Fund, but he diverted oil money from going into the Permanent Fund, money that would have helped strengthen the fund and helped with bringing dividends up," Wuerth said.

The recall petition also charges that Murkowski demonstrated that he is unfit to serve by his appointment of GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Ruedrich resigned from his post on the commission in November amid charges that he used his state office to conduct party business.

The group also charges that Lt. Gov. Leman failed to properly supervise the state Division of Elections and infringed on the rights of Alaskans to participate in matters of public policy.

To get the recall petition certified, sponsors must collect more than 23,000 signatures - 10 percent of the number of voters in the most recent statewide election.

To get the measure on the ballot, they also would have to collect signatures from 25 percent of the number of voters in that same election, a total of 57,871 signatures.

If the recall of both officials is successful, Bill Corbus, commissioner of the state Department of Revenue, would become governor.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at

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