Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Backlash Against Anti-Palin Ethics Complainers Building: KTUU Poll Shows 76 Percent Of Respondents Want Complainants To Share Adjudication Costs

On July 14th, 2009, KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage took the political pulse of Alaskans once again, and found out that because so many ethics complaints against Sarah Palin have been filed, and nearly all of them dismissed, public backlash against those who file ethics complaints, particularly against Andree McLeod, is building. McLeod recently characterized her critics as "ignorant" on CNN.

In response to the question "Should the filers of state ethics complaints be responsible for some or all of the costs of investigating the complaints?", here is the result of 868 responses:

Yes: 76 percent
No: 24 percent

Because the poll is unscientific, there's no way to guarantee that the 868 responses were from 868 separate people, nor does KTUU's technology restrict the poll to Alaskans only. Consequently, some anti-Palin activists have suggested that some pro-Palin sources such as Conservatives4Palin and Team Sarah may have "organized" the "Yes" vote. However, there's no evidence from either site that this KTUU poll was uniquely targeted. A May 2009 Hays poll showed that Governor Palin still had an approval rating of 54 percent within Alaska, so KTUU's poll, although not scientific, appears realistic, and may indeed show a slow backlash building against Palin's critics.

But so what if organized Palin supporters did target the poll? After all, anti-Palin activists, many from Outside, have deliberately targeted the Anchorage Daily News boards with anti-Palin criticism and even outright smears. They've also repeatedly put up anti-Palin material on Daily Kos and Huffington Post, and even The Alaska Standard on rare occasion. It's only fair to allow sites like Team Sarah and Conservatives4Palin, even if operated by Outsiders, to level the playing field by advocating on behalf of Palin. Should Sarah Palin have to fight her critics with one hand tied behind her back simply because she's a governor and a Republican? Of course not.

Blogger Andrew Halcro recently provided background information which implies that the seeds for the weaponization of the ethics complaint system may have been sown by the Alaska State Legislature back in 1998. Until that time, the same rules of confidentiality applied to ethics complaints against both the legislature and the executive branch. But, according to Halcro, then-Senator Drue Pearce led a successful effort to sever the executive part from the legislative part because of stories about how ethics complaints were being buried by the Executive Branch. So they passed SB105 to change the rules. Among those voting for the change - then-Senator and current Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. Little did Parnell realize he was setting up a future governor for political persecution. Rep. Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage Hillside) is drafting a bill which would restore the same confidentiality requirements for ethics complaints against the executive branch.

Halcro has been a critic of Governor Palin, but his criticism has been responsible and principled throughout, unlike many other critics. Halcro has also shielded the Palin children from criticism, and never questioned the circumstances of Trig's birth.

Of course, this raises the question as to how ethics complainants should "share costs". What most of us have in mind is to simply require that a complainant post a reasonable deposit upon filing the complaint. This would not only help defray the investigatory costs, but would screen out frivolous complaints. Only serious people would be willing to put their money where their mouths are. If the complaint is substantiated, the deposit would be returned to the complainant. The amount of the deposit should be high enough to hurt, but not so high as to restrict the complaint process to the rich and privileged. Any figure within a range of $100 to $500 would suffice. Perhaps Rep. Lynn should include such a provision in his proposed bill.

1 comment:

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