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Letter Sent to High-Priced Washington D.C. Law Firm Outlines the Lack of Proper Authority to Proceed With Ill-Advised Lawsuit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2016

Juneau – Today, the members of Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition sent a letter to the high-priced Washington D.C. law firm of Bancroft, PLLC asking them to not move forward on an appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court of a lawsuit challenging the expansion of Medicaid in Alaska.  The authority to move forward with an appeal has not been granted by the full membership of the Alaska House of Representatives as is required by law.  Last week, a notice of appeal was illegally filed with the Alaska Supreme Court on behalf of the Alaska Legislative Council and the Alaska House of Representatives.  This is despite a clear legal opinion from the Alaska Division of Legal and Research Services that such an appeal must be authorized by a vote of the full Alaska Legislature, which it was not.

“The recent Superior Court ruling and the success of the rollout of Medicaid expansion shows very clearly that Governor Walker’s decision last summer was both legal and in the best interest of the people of Alaska,” said Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Leader Rep. Chris Tuck(D-Anchorage). 

Alaska law stipulates that any decision to pursue litigation on behalf of the Alaska Legislature must be approved by a majority of lawmakers if the Legislature is in session.  Last week’s decision to file an appeal of the dismissed lawsuit to stop Medicaid expansion was made during the legislative session but no vote was ever taken.  The fourteen member Alaska Legislative Council is only allowed to pursue litigation on behalf of the full Alaska Legislature during the interim.

“The Majority leadership has it backwards.  Instead of using legal means to stop something that’s illegal, they are using illegal means to stop something that’s clearly legal,” said Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).  “My colleagues and I want the opportunity to vote yes or no on continuing the lawsuit.  We also want to make clear that this Washington D.C. law firm is not entitled to payment if it moves ahead with an illegal appeal.”

The Republican-led leadership of the House Majority Caucus is spending $150,000 to pursue the appeal of the lawsuit to the Alaska Supreme Court.  This comes on top of the $300,000 already spent on the lawsuit, which was dismissed in March by a Superior Court Judge. 

Today’s letter from the members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition notes that the authorization given to Bancroft, PLLC was made by a small minority of legislators and was never presented to the full membership of the Alaska Legislature.  The letter stresses that Bancroft, PLLC is currently acting without the proper legal authority.

For more information, please contact Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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