Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Governor Sarah Palin Denies Having Control Over Alaska Fund Trust After Affirmative Finding On Kim Chatman's Complaint Forwarded To Personnel Board
CNN reports that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is rejecting allegations she broke state ethics laws by letting supporters set up a legal defense fund for her. "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," according to Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton.
Palin, who gives up her office on Sunday July 26th, emphasized that she did not control the fund. "I find the notion that I have taken any action pertaining to the legal defense trust fund misguided and factually in error," Palin said Wednesday. "I have not 'acted' relative to the defense fund, and it is misleading to say I have."
Gov. Palin was responding to a preliminary report by an investigator employed by the Alaska Personnel Board which suggested she may have violated Alaska ethics laws. On July 21st, the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2 both reported that Anchorage attorney Tom Daniel, who was seconded to the Personnel Board to investigate the ethics complaint originally submitted by Kim Chatman, forwarded an affirmative finding to the Board, stating in his report, "In light of the evidence that the governor expressly authorized the creation of the trust and the fact the trust website quite openly uses the governor's position to solicit donations, there is probable cause to believe that Governor Palin used, or attempted to use, her official position for personal gain in violation of Alaska statute".
Daniel recommended that Palin refuse to take the money raised by her legal defense fund, called the Alaska Fund Trust. But he was also sympathetic toward Palin for the $500,000 in personal legal bills accumulated while defending herself against ethics complaints. Daniel suggested the legislature consider changing the law so the state would pay in cases where complaints are tossed out.
However, contrary to many media reports and blog posts, the complaint has NOT yet been officially substantiated. Daniel further explained that his report to the state personnel board was simply a preliminary "probable cause" finding. He said the case won't be final until Palin resolves it, possibly by refusing to take money from the fund, or it goes to a formal board hearing. Kim Chatman also claims she was not responsible for leaking the confidential report to the media.
Thomas Daniel's nine-page report can be viewed HERE in PDF format.
It should also be noted that Kim Chatman is a plaintiff in a suit against the Palin Administration over Palin's failure to issue a proclamation for Juneteenth 2007. Read the suit documents HERE. One of their objectives is to get the court to order Palin to issue a retroactive proclamation - two years later. Not that it would actually mean shit, of course, but then again, diversity and multiculturalism have always been only about style and never about substance.
Meanwhile, Palin's chief persecutor Andree McLeod was not idle. On Monday July 20th, McLeod resumed her political jihad against Palin by filing her sixth ethics complaint against the governor. This time, McLeod claims that Governor Palin failed to submit complete gift disclosure forms in a timely manner. The full complaint can be read HERE, and the response by Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein is available HERE.
And McLeod has even more chicanery planned, if one can believe the profile on her published on July 20th by Vanity Fair. In the article, McLeod states that she has no plans to stop at six [ethics complaints]. “There’s going to be more,” she told VF Daily, including one against staff members of current lieutenant governor Sean Parnell, who is set to become governor when Palin steps down on July 26th. So it appears she will continue her ethics jihad into the next administration.
Vanity Fair did a well-balanced and cogent assessment of the situation, effectively summing up the concerns of both the pro and anti-Palin "lobbies". But Vanity Fair seemed struck by the fact that the same Andree McLeod who demands such an extreme level of accountability and transparency on Governor Palin's part would in turn be so secretive and evasive about her own background. VF also remarked about how "eccentric" McLeod sounded on the phone. For her part, McLeod attempted to blow it off by claiming that there’s not much point in discussing her past, because, in her words, “I’m so focused on the present, and making sure things are done right".
My God, talk about narcissistic megalomania. I can understand the need for some confidentiality; because McLeod's home address is published on one of the ethics complaints she filed back in August 2008, she has reported at least one telephonic threat directed against her. But it took forever to get McLeod to admit that yes, she had applied for a patronage job with the Palin Administration, and no, she was not hired. And of course, McLeod also blows off the fact that so many complaints have been dismissed by claiming that the Personnel Board is in Palin's back pocket simply because its members are appointed by the governor (at least one of the current members was appointed by Frank Murkowski). More megalomania.
What Vanity Fair missed was the fact that serious backlash is building against those who are passionately pursuing Palin. A KTUU "unscientific" poll taken on July 21st reveals that nearly two-thirds of the 841 respondents - 65 percent - consider these ethics investigations a waste of money. Rep. Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage Hillside) is preparing to address this concern in part during the upcoming 2010 legislative session. But more reforms in Alaska's ethics system, to include payment of legal fees for those who are exonerated, as well as a deposit requirement to be levied upon complainants, will clearly be in order. A July 14th KTUU poll showed that 76 percent of respondents believe that ethics complainants should share in the investigation costs.