Friday, 29 May 2009

Sarah Palin can't do anything wrong... ever

Oct 2008 Palin office defends charging state for children's travel

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is allowed to charge taxpayers for her children's commercial airline tickets because they represent the state wherever they go with her, the governor's aides said Wednesday.

"There's an expectation that the First Family participates in community activities," said Sharon Leighow, the governor's spokeswoman. "They are representing the First Family and the state of Alaska."

The AP reported that often the children were not invited to the events the governor attended, but she brought them anyway and charged the government.

The AP also reported that Palin ordered the children's travel expense forms changed in August to add language claiming that they performed official state business on the trips.

Leighow also defended other state-paid trips the girls made. She provided to the AP on Wednesday an e-mail that the governor's office received that invited Bristol to a five-hour New York conference in October 2007 that she attended with her mother. Palin charged the state $1,385.11 for her daughter's flight. They shared a room for four nights in a luxury hotel on Central Park.

But the conference organizer said Bristol was only invited after the governor said she was bringing her.

Feb 2009 Palin to reimburse state for family travel

Gov. Sarah Palin has agreed to reimburse the state nearly $10,000 to cover assorted costs related to various trips taken by her children in 2007 and 2008, but she's not admitting that she did anything wrong.

The charges at issue include the cost of airfare and one meal when daughter Bristol to accompanied Palin to New York City in 2007 for a women's leadership conference, according to the settlement agreement. State travel forms put that cost at about $1,400.

Other questioned trips were in Alaska, including one last year to the start of the Tesoro Iron Dog snowmachine race, in which Palin's husband, Todd, was one of the contenders.

The settlement was signed Monday by Palin and Anchorage lawyer Tim Petumenos, who was hired by the state Personnel Board to investigate the complaint.

"Nothing in this agreement constitutes an admission of wrongdoing, and none has been found," the document said.

Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, took it a step further.

"The governor has been exonerated of all wrongdoing in this ethics act complaint. There is no finding of wrongdoing and there is no ethics violation," Van Flein said in a news conference.

So was she exonerated?

"To be exonerated suggests a hearing on the merits and a conclusion. That was not what happened here," Petumenos said.

As Petumenos described it, the governor agreed not to contest certain charges. He agreed not to file a formal accusation or take the case to a hearing.

Governor's website:

"I am gratified that this settlement explicitly recognizes and establishes that I broke no laws or ethics rules.

It is troubling that this complaint was such an obvious political weapon, with an associate of a political adversary filing this and making it public – against state law – just before the election. Beyond objecting to the obvious gamesmanship that serves the public so terribly, I think it is important to prevent the ethics act from being used as a tool to ensure that only the wealthy can seek higher office in Alaska.

This is a big state, and I am obligated to – and intend to – keep Alaskans informed and meet with them as much as I can, from Barrow to Marshall to Ketchikan. At the same time, I am blessed to have a large and loving family, and the discharge of my duties should not prevent me from spending time with them."

Considering that the Personnel Board, the Attorney General and various "independent" investigators always provide cover for Sarah Palin's misdeeds, it's impossible for her to violate any statutes or break any laws.

A few bloggers are covering the latest ethics complaints that have been dismissed. I went back to Travelgate because there was clear evidence of wrongdoing, which in the eyes of the Personnel Board and other Palin minions means completely innocent, of course.

The fact that she paid back $10,000 to the state doesn't seem to indicate innocence. They made a deal before the matter could come before the courts. Giving money back and making deals doesn't mean she's innocent. They twist and spin the facts, make big statements to the press, Sarah Palin appears to be making a grand gesture, but the facts say otherwise.

Two things stand out:

“This is a big state, and I am obligated to – and intend to – keep Alaskans informed and meet with them as much as I can, from Barrow to Marshall to Ketchikan. At the same time, I am blessed to have a large and loving family, and the discharge of my duties should not prevent me from spending time with them."

The AP also reported that Palin ordered the children's travel expense forms changed in August to add language claiming that they performed official state business on the trips.

If Sarah Palin charged the state to be able to spend time with her children then deliberately ordered her staff to alter expense forms so the travel appeared to be connected to official state business, how is it not wrongdoing?

This was reported at the same time as the reimbursent:

It's the latest development related to Palin's expenses and perks. State officials announced Monday that Palin had turned in her state Chevy Suburban after learning she would owe income taxes on any personal use of it, and last week they said she also would have to pay taxes on expense money she received while living in her Wasilla home.

It seems to me that the IRS was closing in on her and with help from her "independent" associates she managed to wriggle out of some bigger trouble.

Last week I wrote about Cheryl Metiva: "Sarah Palin's Valley friends". The Mat-Su Frontiersman has since published an editorial:

Suspending executive director Cheryl Metiva until the audit is complete was the right move.

She comes under scrutiny because former misunderstandings regarding chamber credit card purchases indicates she did not understand the card was not for personal use — which seems unlikely — or she deliberately hoped those purchases wouldn’t come up under examination of the books.

In response, via a press release, Metiva said those issues have been cleared up. Which, reading between the lines, probably means she reimbursed the chamber for the purchases and her wrist was slapped. She should have been fired.

In the press release, she intimates, those charges are all that have occurred.

Does anybody notice certain similarities in the style of the two Valley women?

That's Valley ethics in a nutshell. Now Sarah Palin has spread her wings and turned it into Alaska ethics. If she makes it to Washington, the whole of the US would go into an ethics freefall.

Where's the IRS in all this?

Latest ethics complaints: Mudflats, Celtic Diva, Immoral Minority.
RECALL Sarah Palin


Anonymous said...

Taking children on free vacations trips may be petty theft when compared to getting a free house.

Where are the honest people in Alaska that know the inside true information... it is time for you to step forward.

teal said...

she does wrong...just not held to being responsible for her actions...tooo many excuses!

Anonymous said...

It is the inability to admit any mistake, or take responsibility for her actions is one of the traits that makes her so monstrous.

After the news interview when she said that she was glad the Branchflower report cleared her of "any hint of ethics wrongdoing" is when I realized she was in a whole separate class apart from wheel-n-deal politicians. Perhaps I have lived a sheltered life, because I have never, to my certain knowledge, watched a person so confidently dishonest as Falin'.

KaJo said...

Evidently the situation this Cheryl Metiva took advantage of is endemic among ethics-deficient government employees.

Here's a few instances of credit card fraud involving government credit card at shockingly high levels of government, as well as municipal/borough/county levels:

"AP report April 9, 2008: GAO -- Millions wasted on government cards -- Abuses cited at Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs"and a similar report dated Oct. 10, 2008, "Government workers sometimes abuse credit cards
Without proper oversight, employees use cards for personal expenses"
"Former Brentwood (PA) Council President Gets House Arrest""Son of Picatinny Arsenal (NJ) Employee Admits Using Mom's Government Credit Card to Embezzle"-----------------

I'd say right offhand, Regina, that the FBI is a little BUSY!

I was amazed just reading the number of corruption and fraud cases, and the individuals involved(!), in New Jersey in 2006 where I found the last case above listed.

I wonder if the laissez-faire attitude of the Republican administration of the past 8 years -- less regulation, more municipal and local government control, less federal government control -- had anything to do with the shocking number and types of cases reported.

Maybe I'm just cynical, too -- and a little untrusting of "conservatives" for whom "less government" means "less law". :)

regina said...


The Americans come across as rank amateurs compared to the British MPs. They managed to get away with some pretty serious stuff for years!

It seems the gravy train has derailed and the British electorate had enough.

I don't write anything about it because it makes SP look like a saint...


Kyra said...

Before I went back to school and became a counselor, I worked in accounting and in state accounting. I was amazed at how many people had no clue about money having never had to deal with it - state budgets are huge and the dollars are meaningless since you rarely actually handle real money - just numbers on a page. People who had never worked in the private sector just had a strange perspective on the whole thing.

The first time American Express cards were given out for travel as a way to reduce paperwork and streamline the process, one of my staffers, an older man, had no clue that (at that time) American Express was not a credit card, but a charge card (it had to be paid off every month). His wife never let him carry a credit card or even the checkbook we discovered later. Anyway, we didn't think we needed to tell him it was for state travel use only - I mean, it was a given, right? Not. He took 6 weeks vacation that summer. He took his family (4 kids) including their significant others to London and Paris, first class all the way. His total bill was in excess of $20,000 (this was about 25 years ago). What a nightmare. He was totally clueless. He thought it was okay and that he could make payments just like a credit card. No attempt to defraud, just ineptness. Needless to say, he was the cause of numerous new state rules and regulations and masses of new forms and paperwork for future travel for everyone!!

midnightcajun said...

One of things that has happened in the US is that for the past 8 years, rather than chase crooks, the FBI has been pretending they're the CIA and going after "terrorists." As a result, this kind of white collar crime has grown unchecked.

The more Palin gets away with (and lately she's been getting away with a lot--the clothes complaint dismissed, the ethics violations dismissed), the more she will be emboldened. I keep wondering why some of those corrupt good old boys she tore down on her scramble to the top don't bring her down. The reason must be that she has someone very powerful up there at her back. She didn't make that climb all on her own.