Monday, 21 February 2011

Sarah Palin's ethics

The list of "The Palingates" is long, but one gate has many, may posts: Ethics. There are 68 posts dedicated to the topic! (69 when this one is included)

It would be impossible to go into this topic in depth and look at each of the ethics complaints against Sarah Palin in a single post, so I'll make list and focus on the most important of the lot.

1) 7/28/08 filed by Alaska Legislature - Abuse of Power re: firing Walt Monegan (aka Troopergate).
10/10/08 Sarah Palin found guilty of abuse of power for permitting husband and staff to harangue Monegan about the trooper.

2) 8/06/08 filed by Andree McLeod (AK resident) - Undue influence exerted by Palin and staff to get a job for a Palin supporter.
Palin staff member advised to take ethics training.

3) 8/20/08 filed by Brian Kraft (AK resident) - Breaking election law by taking public position on ballot initiative concerning Pebble Mine.
05/08/09 Complaint rejected by APOC (Alaska Public Offices Commission).

4) 9/02/08 filed by Sarah Palin (AK resident) - Self-disclosure filing with AK Personnel Board (re: Troopergate).
11/03/08 Personnel Board found no abuse of power for Sarah Palin letting aides and husband hassle Monegan, but also, no investigation of who committed perjury in their contradictory sworn statements, Palin or Monegan.

5) 9/03/08 filed by PSEA (AK Public Safety Employees Association) - Improper disclosure of the trooper's personnel records and amended to include allegation of harassment (bundled with charge #4)
11/03/08 Dismissed together with #4 by AK Personnel Board.

6) 10/13/08 Filed by Walt Monegan (AK resident) - Request by filer for a hearing to clear his name (it had been sullied by Palin and staff).
11/03/08 AK Personnel Board said there was no legal basis or jurisdiction for a hearing on this matter.

7) 10/23/08 filed by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics) - Expensive wardrobe purchased for Sarah Palin with donor money violates FEC regulations.
05/19/09 FEC ruled "party money" is not covered in ban.

8) 10/24/08 unnamed filer - Abuse of power for charging AK for children's travel.
02/23/09 AK Personnel Board negotiated settlement wherein Sarah Palin paid $10,000 to reimburse for costs.

9) 11/14/08 Filed by Zane Henning (AK resident) - Alleged abuse of office by doing "post-election damage control" in interviews from Governor's office.
03/23/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board.

10) 12/02/08 filed by Anthony Martin (AK resident) - Sarah Palin violated ethics by campaigning for Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
03/23/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board.

11) 12/18/08 unnamed filer - Alleged misuse of funds by allowing her picture to be used to promote Alaska seafood in national publications while also promoting her national political ambitions.
01/12/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board.

12) 01/12/09 filed by Edna Birch - Interference in job hiring.
02/20/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board because filer failed to use a real name.

13) 01/26/09 filed by Andree McLeod (AK resident) - Palin aide Bill McAllister worked on state time to benefit Palin's extra-AK political interests. PENDING

14) 01/26/09 filed by Andree McLeod (AK resident) - Palin aide Kris Perry worked on state time to benefit Palin's extra-AK political interests.
06/05/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board.

15) 03/18/09 filed by Andree McLeod (AK resident) - Improper use of state resources for partisan political purposes.
05/27/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board.

16) 03/24/09 filed by Linda Kellen Biegel (AK resident) - Conflict of interest by advertising for husband's sponsor by wearing Arctic Cat gear during official duties.
06/02/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board.

17) 04/22/09 filed by Sondra Tompkins (AK resident) - SarahPAC constitutes ethics violation by misusing official position and accepting outside employment.
05/08/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board.

18) 04/27/09 filed by Kim Chatman (AK resident) - Alaska Fund Trust (AFT) violates ethics rules by funneling improper gifts to Sarah Palin.
06/24/2010 PALIN SETTLES - has to return $386,000 because AFT declared illegal.

19) 07/06/09 filed by Zane Henning (AK resident) - Illegal continuation of per diem collection when Sarah Palin's home is less than 50 miles from Anchorage office. PENDING

20) 07/10/09 filed by Ray Ward (AK resident) - Illegal compensation collected by Sarah Palin for giving radio and television interviews since '08 campaign ended.
07/15/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board (in part for not being properly notarized).

21) 07/14/09 filed by Andree McCleod (AK resident) - Failure to transfer power to Lt. Gov during '08 campaign, while collecting salary during "off duty" status.
07/24/09 Dismissed by AK Personnel Board as legally flawed.

22) 07/20/09 filed by Andree McCleod (AK resident) - Failure to disclose gifts within 30 days of receipt. PENDING

I suspect the complaints marked as PENDING were resolved in Sarah Palin's favour. I tried to find up-to-date information, but the trail went cold. One possibility is that the state is holding back, waiting for the two years after her resignation to expire so she would no longer be held accountable.

Most of these complaints have something in common, in that they were investigated and resolved by a personnel board appointed by the governor. The other thing they all have in common is the blurring of boundaries, a useful smokescreen to conceal unethical practices.

Linda Kellen Biegel (complaint #16) wrote about how Sarah Palin's chief of staff Mike Nizich encouraged a backlash against Alaska citizens who challenged the governor's unethical behaviour. Sarah Palin regularly bragged about each dismissed complaint in press releases on her governor's website.

The most interesting complaints are the ones where Sarah Palin was found to be at fault (in her book that means exonerated).

may come to the forefront yet again. Sarah Palin was found guilty in an independent, bi-partisan report and not guilty by her Personnel Board. Now a major player in the fiasco, Frank Bailey, is prepared to disclose a ton of evidence that confirms that there was indeed abuse of power and a great deal of harassement of some people by the Palins. Alaska Dispatch has already disclosed some passages (you will need to register to read it) from Bailey's manuscript and it appears there's a sequel to the original Troopergate, this time involving a "hiring" instead of a "firing," indicating another instance of abuse of power. It seems Judge Morgan Christen was appointed to the Supreme Court as a reward for siding with Sarah Palin's sister Molly in the custody battle with Mike Wooten.

Complaint # 18 is another interesting one. We don't have a way of finding out if the money was indeed returned to the donors. As they're what we call "palinbots," I don't think they would come forward to say they have not been reimbursed. The new Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund website doesn't publish any financial disclosures or reports, so it's impossible to tell how well the fund is doing.

The original Alaska Fund Trust, with Kristan Cole as the sole trustee, failed to publish a detailed account of donations as she had promised, so we can't tell if the $386,000 figure quoted above is in any way accurate. Is it possible that a lot more was collected and the balance is nowhere to be found? When it comes to Sarah Palin and Kristan Cole, we can't be blamed for having suspicious minds...

The outcome of complaint #19 is unclear. It was filed three days after her first quitter speech on Lake Lucille and I couldn't find any resolution, for or against Sarah Palin (see above). In February 2009 she was told to pay back taxes on at least $17,000 per diem.

We discussed complaint #8 already and it raised a few questions, as usual.

Sarah Palin invited the citizens of Alaska to hold her accountable. She ran her campaign for governor on a platform of transparency and accountability, as an ethics champion. Then she found it impossible to govern Alaska because too many citizens took her at her word. She quit.


The Branchflower report on Troopergate may be downloaded from the sidebar.