Friday, 24 July 2009
$arah Palin's "legal expense" fund compared to real legal expense funds
Celtic Diva posted an excellent analysis, by a qualified lawyer from the East Coast, of the wording used in the Alaska Fund Trust.
Funnily enough, when I wrote "$arah Palin's legal fund: questions, questions...", I was puzzled by the same passages explored by the lawyer in Diva's article.
I noticed that the purpose of the trust was for the payment of fees incurred as a result of $arah Palin being the governor of Alaska:
OK, the sole purpose of the fund is to provide for the payment of fees incurred by the governor, her family and other covered individuals, blah blah.
I omitted the word legal when referring to fees because I couldn't see the word in the text of the agreement. But the penny didn't drop until I read Diva's article.
They used the expression "legal fees" on the website, but NOT in the actual agreement. Obviously the website is not legally binding, but the trust agreement IS.
Read the purpose of the trust carefully:
The sole and exclusive purpose of this Trust is to provide a proper means for the acceptance of money, property, and services, including, if necessary, pro bono legal services, to provide for all reasonable, necessary, and appropriate fees or charges incurred by (i) SARAH PALIN as a result of the fact that she is Governor of the State of Alaska or as a result of the performance of her duties as Governor of the State of Alaska; and (ii) Covered Individuals, that may be selected or designated by the Trustee as provided herein, as a result of or arising out of their association or relationship with or employment by SARAH PALIN, in her capacity as Governor of the State of Alaska.
The main purpose is to provide a proper means for the acceptance of money, property, and services, including, if necessary, pro bono legal services (the the word legal appears here, but it's incidental), followed by: to provide for all reasonable, necessary, and appropriate fees or charges incurred by (i) SARAH PALIN as a result of the fact that she is Governor of the State of Alaska or as a result of the performance of her duties as Governor of the State of Alaska (no mention of legal fees), finally extending the benefit of all that lovely money to family and friends selected or designated by the trustee.
It continues in a rambling fashion and does mention legal representation, but only to specify their right to appoint attorneys, negotiate fees etc, for the above purpose, which they were careful to state as fees and charges incurred because $arah is the governor, not that the trust fund exists solely to pay legal expenses. The legal expenses are mentioned in an incidental manner...
In a nutshell: the purpose of the fund is to raise money for $arah Palin, her family and selected friends because she's the governor of Alaska. No strings attached.
We know very well that $arah doesn't like no pesky strings, no siree!
I had a closer look at the other trust agreements offered as examples on the AFT website.
ALL the trusts contain the expression legal expense in their title. $arah's is simply called The Alaska Fund Trust.
The purpose in all the other trusts is clearly specified: to pay legal expenses. In the cases of Stevens and Kerry, the purpose relates to specific proceedings, and in Kerry's case, a specific lawsuit: the Sherwood suit.
None of the other trusts has the Rights of Withdrawal bit:
Each of the beneficiaries of this trust, shall, in each calendar year, have an absolute and unrestricted power to withdraw from this Trust up to the lesser of the total additions made to this Trust during each calendar year or an amount in cash or other property equal the lesser of the total additions made to this Trust during each calendar year, divided equally among such beneficiaries, or an amount in cash or other property equal to the maximum amount which qualifies for the Federal Gift Tax exclusion (...) and shall be exercisable only by written notice to Trustee of the amount Donee wishes to withdraw, but no purpose for said withdrawal need be shown.
The most transparent and restrictive trust in the history of trusts has no clear purpose other than raise money, property, services, you name it, for $arah Palin, family and friends because she's the governor of Alaska, the name of the Trust doesn't reflect anything to do with legal expenses and provides a lovely way for each of the beneficiaries to access tax free money each year, no questions asked.
They did restrict the donations to a maximum of $150 per donor per year, which is, by sheer coincidence, the maximum value of any gifts before they need to be disclosed to APOC.
Most of the wording of $arah's trust was copied and pasted from some of the other examples, omitting some crucial words and introducing the get money for nothing described above.
I also noticed that $arah's and Clinton's trusts are the only ones that make provision for moving the trust to another jurisdiction. In $arah's case at the discretion of the trustee without notice to the beneficiaries...
The AFT website gives the fund the appearance of being transparent and restrictive, but the text of the actual agreement seems to tell a very different story.
It looks very neat , eh? I pity the poor suckers who sent money to this "legal expense" fund. I hope the handwritten thank you note "signed" by the governor is enough to keep each of them on cloud 9...