The Associated Press report yesterday that Sarah Palin was about to be found guilty of violating state ethics laws set off a round of speculation that the Alaska governor was resigning later this month one step ahead of the sheriff.
In reality, it appears as if the improper leak may be little more than a parting shot against her by her critics, who have filed a total of 19 ethics complaints and hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests against her. The leaks indicated that the Alaska Personnel Board has concluded that Governor Palin used her public image and notoriety to raise money for a legal defense fund she created to pay the costs of defending herself against ethics complaints. The only sanction it recommends is that she no longer accept direct payments from the fund to reimburse her $500,000 in legal expenses.
So far none of the ethics complaints filed against Ms. Palin have resulted in any findings of wrongdoing. The leaked portions of the report indicate that an investigator concluded that because an average citizen would have been unable to raise large sums to pay for legal bills, Governor Palin should not be able to 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,” says a preliminary finding by the investigator.
Team Palin pushed back quickly. The governor herself used Twitter to send an abbreviated defense of herself: “In violation of Ethics Act more allegations were filed today by serial complainer; gave to press be4 we could respond; ridiculous, wasteful,” she tweeted. “Some ask why not sue abusers of Ethics Act bc state wastes 1000’s hrs/millions of tax dollars to fight (and win!) frivolous charges, tho it costs political critics NOTHING to file/play their wasteful game; They should debate policy in political arena, not hide w/process abuse.”
Other Palin supporters joined in. Thomas Van Flein, her personal attorney, noted: “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.” The head of her legal defense fund, Kristan Cole, told reporters: “This legal expense fund was thoroughly vetted by numerous attorneys from Alaska to the East Coast [and is meant] to help the Governor with the crushing legal fees she has incurred solely because of her public service.”
No one doubts Ms. Palin has made a series of boneheaded public relations moves since her surprise choice as John McCain’s running-mate last year. But the ethics charges strike many observers as bogus or nitpicky. They have included challenges to her out-of-state trips that appear dubious and even a complaint that her husband, Todd, wore a jacket made by a company that sponsored his snow-mobile races.
What the leftists have done to Sarah Palin is classic, well, leftist behavior: Use of courts through frivolous suits, etc., in pursuit of the politics of personal destruction.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at email@example.com.