The Associated Press claims soon-to-be former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin will be found guilty of violating her state’s ethics rules, citing a report leaked to their offices from the State Personnel Board on one of the 19 ethics complaints filed against her.
The governor may be counting down her final days in office, but she isn’t letting the accusations go unanswered. She’s even threatening to take some legal action of her own against the leakers.
According to the AP, the board will say she improperly used her public image to raise money for the legal defense fund created to fend off complaints made against her as an elected offical. No punishment is expected for violating the rules; the board will only recommend Mrs. Palin not take direct payments from the fund.
Selected quotations from the report show that investigator Thomas Daniel reasoned that because an ordinary citizen would not be able to raise significant sums for to pay for legal fees, Mrs. Palin shouldn’t be able to do so, either. “Governor Palin is able to generate donations because of the fact that she is a public official and a public figure. Were it not for the fact that she is governor and a national political figure, it is unlikely that many citizens would donate money to her legal defense fund,” Mr. Daniel wrote.
Mrs. Palin issued a lenghty statement late Tuesday evening saying the fund “was the hallmark of legal compliance and prudent conduct.”
“I find the notion that I have taken any action pertaining to the legal defense trust fund misguided and factually in error,” she said. “I am informed that this fund was created by experienced attorneys in DC and was modeled after other similar funds established for senators and others. The fund itself was not created by me nor is it controlled by me. Neither I nor my lawyer has received a penny from this fund, and I am informed the Trustee was withholding any action or payment pending final resolution with the Personnel Board.”
She went on, “In short, I have not ‘acted’ relative to the defense fund and it is misleading to say I have. I have no doubt that the Trust will welcome guidance by the Board, as do we all, but it is my understanding that this matter was not resolved and the complainant’s violation of law has served to mislead the public and prejudice a fair review of this matter.”
Mrs. Palin’s private attorney Thomas Van Flein says it’s too early for the AP to judge the outcome of the investigation. “I have been working with the investigator regarding supplemental information,” he said. “The matter is still pending.”
“Whatever you have seen was released in violation of law,” he said. “There has been no Board finding of an ethics violation and there is a detailed legal process to follow before there is a final resolution.”
Mrs. Palin may turn the tables on the leakers in the future, too.
“All options are open in terms of legal remedies,” Mr. Van Flein said.
Kim Chatman, who filed the complaint, spoke to the Associated Press on the record ahead of the report’s release, an action prohibited by the ethics procedures. Palin’s aides believe Ms. Chatman leaked the report as well.
“It is a clear violation of Alaska law that Mr. Daniel explicitly reviewed with Ms. Chatman prior to her illegal actions,” Mr. Van Flein said. “We will be contacting the appropriate authorities for review and action.”
19 ethics complaints have been filed against the governor to date. If the AP report is true, it will be the first time Mrs. Palin has been found in violation of any ethics rules, a determination that would certainly put a sour note on her last week as governor.
Her spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said, “It appears suspect that in the final days of the Governor’s term, someone would again violate the law and announce a supposed conclusion before it is reached.”
In her resignation speech, Mrs. Palin blasted the tirade of frivolous ethics complaints being filed to the State Personnel Board costing her, and the state, time and money. Her aides say the governor owes up to $500,000 in legal bills from the complaints and the state has spent nearly $2 million investigating the charges.
Many of the complaints appear frivolous in nature. Some have challenged her trips out of state to attend a campaign event for Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, and to speak at a pro-life breakfast in Indiana, as well as for conducting television interviews in her state office. Another was filed by Anchorage resident Linda Kellen Biegel, who took issue with Mrs. Palin for wearing to a public function a jacket made by a company that sponsored the governor’s husband, Todd, a snow machine racer. Ms. Biegel asked the personnel board to determine whether Mrs. Palin was abusing her position to serve her personal and financial interests.
One of them was immediately dismissed because it was filed under a fictional name.