Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) held a March 4 press conference in which she addressed a scathing letter which Gov. Mike Dunleavy sent Feb. 18 accusing her of abusing her public office by mischaracterizing his administration’s response to COVID-19.

Click the image above to watch Sen. Reinbold’s March 4 press conference.

Reinbold said the letter was “unbecoming of a governor and crossed the bounds of civility.”

Dunleavy’s letter stated that he would no longer have members of his administration interact with Reinbold in her official capacity as chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. She is also the vice chair of the Senate Legislative and State Affairs Committees, and sits on the Budget, Joint Armed Services and Audit and Health and Social Services Committees.

“The governor’s letter is an attempt to intimidate those who question him and his administration and to silence those with opposing views,” Reinbold said as she stood outside the Senate Chambers.

Fundamentally, the dispute centers on a difference of opinion regarding how the state has dealt with COVID, she said. Reinbold has advocated for an end to all emergency orders and a return to normalcy across the state. Rather than issuing general mandates that apply to everyone, Reinbold advocates a targeted approach that protects the “most vulnerable while striving to avoid collateral damage to the average person,” she explained.

While Dunleavy chose not to enforce his mandates or fine Alaskans, he had that ability. Reinbold took issue with the fact that the governor repeatedly extended his disaster declaration throughout 2020. She noted that state law says disaster declarations cannot last for more than 30 days. Dunleavy issued his first declaration on March 11.

Reinbold claimed that much of the governor’s ire toward her stems from her opposition to extending his emergency powers through Senate Bill 56.

“He began to issue a litany of mandates with no legislative oversite, raising serious constitutional concerns, because the Constitution clearly states the legislative branch writes the laws,” Reinbold said.

She lamented that on March 28 the Legislature passed SB 241 which she said, “unfortunately allowed the disaster to be extended through Nov. 15, 2020.” After that time, however, Dunleavy extended his emergency declarations twice more – once before Thanksgiving and then again shortly before Christmas.

Reinbold called those actions illegal, as they did not involve the Legislature. While Dunleavy’s Dept. of Law deemed his actions constitutional, Reinbold claims the Legislature’s legal and research division disagrees.

Reinbold said she asked Dunleavy to provide her with hard data on why he thought extending emergency declarations were necessary before the holidays. In particular, she asked for data showing that Alaska hospitals were at or near full capacity in November. Likewise, she requested information regarding how much money is associated with each new COVID diagnosis and exactly how COVID deaths are determined.

“We’ve gotten partial information, but not complete information,” she said of her requests.

Reinbold claimed that much of the governor’s ire toward her stems from her opposition to extending his emergency powers through Senate Bill 56, which he introduced at the start of the current legislative session. This bill would prolong the disaster declaration until September 2021.

The bill is largely dead at this point, Reinbold noted, but it is still “lurking.”

Gov. Dunleavy, is trying to disenfranchise the legislative branch – the people’s branch.

Sen. Lora Reinbold

In January, the Legislature did pass a resolution continuing the emergency declaration until Feb. 15. Since then, however, there has been no additional extension and the emergency declaration is officially expired. Three days after the expiration, Dunleavy issued his letter against Reinbold.

Reinbold said her dispute with the governor also deals with the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

“The executive branch, in this case Gov. Dunleavy, is trying to disenfranchise the legislative branch – the people’s branch,” she said. “He does not want to provide us the ability to question or get information from the executive branch regarding the COVID-19 disaster.”

Turning to the governor’s letter, she said it contained “inaccurate and unsubstantiated” assertions against her.

“Governor Dunleavy claimed that I said he declared martial law. I never said that,” she retorted. “He distorted my statements and claims that I stated he required mandatory vaccinations. Again, that is false.”

Reinbold has also decried Dunleavy for appropriating around $6 billion in COVID relief funds with “almost no oversite” from the Legislature.

Diverse opinion and feisty debate is of critical importance in the political realm without the fear of significant repercussions.

Sen. Lora Reinbold

With regards to the governor’s criticism of how she has run the Senate Judiciary Committee, Reinbold gave a defense of the committee’s recent work. She first explained that the Judiciary is charged with overseeing legislation dealing with the programs and activities of the court system and the Department of Law. To that end, the Judiciary has held hearings that addresses legal questions regarding COVID vaccine liability, mask mandates, mask efficacy, the usefulness of emergency orders related to COVID, and the rightful role of the Legislature to curb executive branch overstep.

Reinbold said it is important that the Judiciary Committee be able to ask questions and get information from the executive branch as they examine legislation. Sometimes, this process involves disagreements, she said, but that does not warrant cutting off communication.

“Diverse opinion and feisty debate is of critical importance in the political realm without the fear of significant repercussions,” Reinbold said. “The outlandish behavior of the governor should cause pause for all. If a respected senator cannot be treated appropriate by the governor what can the average citizen that has a harder time gaining access expect?”

Reinbold concluded the 30-minute press conference by affirming that intelligent minds should be able to respectfully differ without breaking ties.

“We can have a difference of opinions and even spicy debates, as have happened since the inception of our nation,” she said. “There should be no tolerance in a free country for an executive branch that wishes to be above the law – to be intolerant of being questioned.”

In answering a reporter who asked if she planned to use her subpoena powers to order executive branch personnel to testify before the Judiciary, Reinbold said she is “slowly working through this.”

“I am hoping that he will have civil discourse and that he will withdraw the letter, issue an apology so we can have a conversation,” she responded. “But I will not meet with him until he withdraws the letter and issues a formal apology.”

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Sen. Reinbold says Gov. Dunleavy’s letter aims to ‘intimidate those who question him’

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Mongo Like Candy says:

    Looks like Reinbold the RINO Hunter has bagged her a RINO Governor! Good Work Senator!

  • Bryant Bearfield says:

    Dunleavy is a military officer. When you question his integrity you will get a harsh response. Do not hold your breath waiting for an apology. You could end up blue for a long time.

    • Ed Martin Jr says:

      Dunleavy is not any sort of military anything regardless of being in some kind of control of our state’s Guard, period … Where do you get that assertion ?

  • Madeleine Gaiser says:

    I am so proud of Senator Reinbold. Can you imagine if this happened to YOU? She is doing her job and asking the tough questions. Rights that are not exercised are waived! Our founding Fathers debated one another passionately! The Governor should have met in person if he had a problem. Not ignored her requests to meet and attend the hearings and then blast her in the media like he did. She is right and he is wrong. I wish I lived in her District.

  • Dr. Joe says:

    Looks like we may have a murkowski challenger. This is what I wish the current US senator would act like.

  • Marcella Fix says:

    I totally agree! We need a strong Conservative Leader for our wonderful State of Alaska. Murkowski needs to go regardless, however we need an honest straight shooter that has strength and integrity without pandering w/the liberal lean. Senator Reinbold sounds pretty good! You go girl!!

  • NAV says:

    Much more behind the scenes than is being revealed Sen. Reinbold hit a note that opened PADORA’s box whether she knew it or not when she rightfully questioned the distribution of the PPE money and Dunleavy refused to answer both times. What is going on is not about COVID one has only to fallow the money (Sen. Reinbold)!
    Sen. Reinbold is the Chair of the Judiciary committee and needs to subpoena the Governor and get him to testify under oath where all the money is going !!! His outburst against her is a standard Democratic tactic to divert the attention from the real issue and discredit her so the people won’t believe the truth when it’s right before their eyes and ears.

    • NAV says:

      Remember the Legislature is the peoples branch of checks and balances against a rouge executive branch.

  • Sally Pollen says:

    I’m another voice in agreement with Senator Reinbold, always have been. The governor has had chance after chance to oppose the nonsense of the Chinese virus mandates but way too often he chooses to float downstream. In these unbelievable times we need a leader who will fight the liberal current and stand up for personal freedoms and the rules of law stated in our constitutions. We know governors can do it right, just look at Kristi Noem in South Dakota.

  • Martin Guth says:

    We need a Kristi Noem, ‘cuz the behavior here screams Andrew Cuomo!

  • Patrick Dalton says:

    Senator Reinbold is doing what the men in the legislature should have been doing. Like Kristi Noem, Debra, ect. I hope we as Alaskans have the wisdom and discernment of the times to support her. There are very few called into Politics who get it. We need a caucus or something similar of these great statesmen to exert more impact. Representative Eastman, is the only other one that I have seen step out on a courageous limb and stand for sound principles of government.

  • DoneWithIt says:

    Lora – run for governor or US Senate – we need your leadership.
    Dunleavy is a Squish – a bully – who fears strong women.
    Burn the boats!

  • Jon and Ruth Ewig says:

    Lora Reinbold is right on track with her Rights. The state of Texas has removed all of the mask foolishness. People will get sick and that is a given not related to masks. South Dakota already saw the danger of training the citizens and our children in this that has been going on for a year. Time to stop and treat COVID like other infections, diseases and quit ganging up against this lady. It is totally out of line. The legislators who are Democrats are in the legislature to create turmoil. Those are their instructions from the top so expect it to break out where Democrats are involved. As for the governor unfortunately he is following the Chinese protocol through Fauci and the CDC when they are the ones who got us into this. Also, the Chinese solution late intervention which is not common sense when you need to have early intervention as they did in Japan, Sweden and a few other places. Our government is leading our medical people in the wrong direction and the tech tyrants are not allowing the various points of view on the subject.
    The Governor and legislators who oppose Lora are showing a disrespect toward Senator Reinbold.