Guess what? Another so-called "private citizen" has filed an ethics complaint against Governor Sarah Palin. This makes the 12th such complaint against her since she took office, and it's so nitnoid that even chronic Palin critic Dan Fagan has temporarily turned back into a Palinbot, saying "Enough is enough"!
Anchorage resident Sondra Tompkins, self-described as an advocate for children with disabilities, has filed a complaint with the Alaska attorney general’s office, claiming that Governor Palin violated ethics rules by accepting outside employment with her political action committee, SarahPAC. Tompkins, identified HERE as a Republican, also accuses Palin of participating in partisan activities last week when she spoke at a pro-life dinner in Indiana on April 16th. Tompkins' premise is that the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act bars the governor from partisan political activities for personal benefit. It should be noted that this is Tompkins' first ethics complaint, so she is not a professional complaint spammer like Andree McLeod, who has filed four ethics complaints against Palin, all unsubstantiated, since Palin rejected her for a position within the administration.
-- Read the full complaint HERE.
-- Read Governor Palin's full response HERE.
Alaska statutes cited in the complaint (note that Tompkins formally accuses Palin of violating only the first two in her complaint; she cites the others merely as "supporting evidence"):
-- AS 39.52.120, Misuse of official position
-- AS 39.52.170, Outside employment restricted
-- AS 39.52.130, Improper gifts
-- AS 39.20.050, Exclusive compensation
-- AS 39.20.060, Exclusion of Governor and Lieutenant Governor From Personnel Laws
Palin’s chief of staff Mike Nizich calls the complaints “categorically false and ridiculous” and an abuse of the ethics act. And these ethics complaints have become expensive for Palin; she's run up $500,000 in legal fees defending against them. This is why Nizich wants some payback as well, further stating, "I hope that the publicity-seekers will face a backlash from Alaskans who have a sense of fair play and proportion...I served six previous governors, and I've never seen anything like the attacks against Governor Palin".
And therein lies the potential resultant danger from this abuse of the complaints process. The possible backlash could desensitize the public to genuine ethics violations and outright abuse of power that may occur in the future. Don't forget - Troopergate was hardly "nitnoid"; the Branchflower investigation did return a finding of abuse of power against the Governor.
So how can we deter frivolous ethics complaints in the future? KBYR's conservative shock jock Eddie Burke, an unapologetic Palin supporter, proposes a typical "populist" solution on the Anchorage Daily News comments section:
lezrol64 wrote on 04/23/2009 09:19:42 AM:
Sondra Tompkins' complaint is ridiculous, preposterous, laughable, pathetic, embarrassing, and absurd or any other word your thesaurus may find to describe this outlandish and bizarre behavior. Is she on welfare? Does she work somewhere? Lets protest her work or where she lives?? We must publicly hold these people accountable.
Obviously, Burke is merely venting his frustration over this "death by 1000 ethical cuts" being administered to Governor Palin. Picketing Sondra Tompkins' home is not only a non-solution, but would disrupt the peace of the neighborhood, and it ain't gonna happen.
Here's a more constructive solution to deter frivolous ethics complaints. Insert some financial risk. Require anyone who files an ethics complaint against a public official or body to include a significant filing fee, say $500 or even $1,000. If the complaint is substantiated, the complainant gets the money back. If not, the money is forfeited to the state. Do you really think professional complaint spammer Andree McLeod would have ponied up $4,000 of her own money to file four ethics complaints against the Guv? Not bloody likely!
There is a Sondra Tompkins website HERE, but it is unclear whether or not Tompkins herself operates the site. This story is also being discussed on Free Republic. Conservatives4Palin weighs in HERE. Progressive blogger Mudflats published an account of Tompkins' appearance on KUDO 1080AM on April 22nd HERE.