Dunleavy appeals ruling requiring administration to invite owner of political website to news conferences

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is asking the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to determine whether he is required to invite political writer Jeff Landfield to news conferences.

On Monday, the Alaska Department of Law filed a notice of appeal with the federal courts, saying that it would seek to challenge a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred in January. Kindred, an appointee of President Donald Trump, ruled in favor of Landfield in a lawsuit over access to the governor’s news conferences.

Landfield had sued the governor, arguing that he was unlawfully excluded from those conferences. The legal merits of the case are still being debated, but Kindred issued a temporary order requiring the governor to invite Landfield while the arguments progress.

Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner, also named in the lawsuit, declined to comment on Monday and deferred questions to the Department of Law. Maria Bahr, a spokeswoman for the department, said only that the department “has determined that an appeal is warranted in this matter.”

Landfield deferred comment to his attorneys, Lee Baxter and Matt Singer.

Singer said the appeal was a surprise, comparing it to a “Hail Mary” football pass with no time left on the clock. Federal appellate court rules state that any appeal must be filed within 30 days.

“I can’t imagine that the talented lawyers at the Department of Law really think the 9th Circuit will reverse the injunction,” he said.

He said he and attorneys from the Department of Law “are not at present” attempting to settle things out of court, but that’s his preference.

“It seems a poor use of everyone’s resources to go to the 9th Circuit to appeal an order,” he said.