July 9th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
5 years ago

Ethics complaints still dog Palin

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin plans to step down in late July.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin plans to step down in late July.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) – If Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin thought her decision to step down might end ethics accusations against her, she quickly found out she was wrong.

Just days after her bombshell resignation announcement, a new ethics complaint was filed with state authorities arguing that she should not be able to claim per diem funds when she stays at her Wasilla, Alaska, home instead of Anchorage or Juneau, where she has offices. The complaint says she was charging the state when she stayed in Wasilla and commuted to her offices.

The governor's mansion is located in Juneau.

Palin claims she is the target of the "politics of personal destruction," as she and some staff members face 19 filings regarding allegations of ethical violations.

"It doesn't cost the critics anything to file frivolous lawsuits or ethics violation charges. It costs our state such a great deal - thousands of staff hours, millions of dollars in public resources that aren't going to things that it should be going to," Palin told CNN. "We haven't violated the ethics code."

The pressure and financial cost of such ethical investigations are a major reason cited by the governor in her decision not to finish her term. She said her family is facing more than $500,000 in legal fees and has set up a legal defense fund to help defray the costs.

Many of the complaints have been dismissed. But Palin last month reimbursed the state more than $8,000 for travel expenses for nine trips, accompanied by her children, after the state paid for them. Another inquiry led to some new ethics training for a staff member.

In all, state officials say they have spent $1,963,840 to answer records requests from the ethics filings and to respond in other ways to them. Records show that since January 1, 2008, the state has spent $296,043 on such investigations.

Of these inquiries, the one that cost the most and drew the most attention was centered on whether Palin inappropriately fired the state's director of public safety. This complaint had been filed weeks before Palin's run for vice president.

The public safety director claimed he was let go because of his refusal to fire a state trooper who was Palin's former brother-in-law and who was locked in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor's sister.

Palin and her supporters argued it was because the public safety director was insubordinate.

An independent counsel found she had a right to fire him, but in doing so had violated a state ethics law. It found she had abused the powers of her office by pressuring employees to get the trooper fired.

Although the governor and her supporters have criticized the investigations, Andree McLeod, who has filed four complaints against Palin, thinks they are entirely appropriate.

"I don't really care what other people think. I am holding the governor accountable. Other people's ignorance is not going to stymie me," McLeod told CNN, surrounded by stacks of state documents she has collected from filing information requests and ethics complaints.

"I am exercising my right to get these public records to discover what Sarah Palin is up to," McLeod said.

McLeod, a registered Republican, has filed four complaints, including one alleging a friend of Palin's was given preferential treatment in getting a state job. That filing was dismissed by a state board which investigates the claims.

McLeod has also filed two lawsuits, including one regarding whether it was appropriate for state business to be discussed using private e-mail addresses.

When ethics complaints are filed against the governor or her staff, the state has to hire an independent counsel to investigate the claims to avoid conflict of interest.

Among other claims against Palin cite her wearing an Arctic Cat logo on a piece of clothing during a snowmobile race as a conflict of interest and another contending an interview she did after the presidential election in her state office was inappropriate. Those were dismissed.

James Muller, a political science professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, told CNN that, "Some of [the complaints against Palin] are clearly fanciful, farcical.

"I think most of these ethical complaints are trivial. Almost all have been dismissed by the various levels of review that have taken them on," Muller said.

Any filings already in process before she leaves office will be concluded.

Palin had signed a law making it easier to file such complaints.

"She'd been pushing for that even before she was governor. To have it used in this way, to have it abused in the manner that it was is shameful. It's much like the boy who cried 'wolf,' " Thomas Van Flein, Palin's attorney, told CNN.


Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. AlwaysThinking

    Suckerpunch by Obama: No, I get my information about Sarah Palin from reading her Web site and watching the videos she has posted there.

    – She can't write or speak correct English, even though she has a degree in Journalism
    – She loves to play the victim card
    – She's a nasty woman with a Mean Girls high school mentality
    – She professes to be a Christian, but doesn't follow Christ's teachings of forgiveness, compassion, tolerance and love
    – She is ignorant of the world around her
    – She has a huge ego, which leads her to make silly decisions (like quitting before she's completed her elected term as governor to serve a "higher calling" – so that's what they call a book deal these days).

    July 9, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Sarah use the "Force" leave the dark side of politics and join us as the Libertarian you truely are. We will help you on your quest to restore Freedom and Liberty to our nation again.

    July 9, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Sick -n- Tired

    But there aren't any ethics complaints, Sarah said so! So that makes it true right?

    July 9, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. LB in FL

    Lets not forget people, she has quit every single post she has ever held. She has never completed one, not one post. She left the Wasilla council to run for Mayor of Wasilla, she quit Mayor to be head of that energy group, she quit that to run for Governor, and now quit the Governorship to, well, get rich and stay in the limelight.
    Pathetic.

    July 9, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. AlwaysThinking

    Remember how Sarah Palin blasted Obama for writing a couple books? If writing a book is such a bad thing, why'd she ink the deal? (Can you say money?)

    Her book deal is such a demanding assignment that, even with a ghost writer doing the majority of the work (since we all know she can't write), she had to quit her job as governor so she can do it.

    What a lightweight!

    July 9, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. citizenjane

    To all you Palin groupies. She's all your's now. As of July 26, she will be free as a bird, fired up and ready to go. Without any leadership in the GOP, I imagine she will be hard to contain. Good luck keeping her on message. I wonder who really fears her the most right now: the GOP or the Dems? I'm guessing the GOP.

    July 9, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. AP in Illinois

    We all know that ethics complaints are no big deal if you are a Republican. If she was a Democrat, the hypocrites in the GOP would be blowing a gasket.

    July 9, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. donttreadonme

    I wished they would have investigated the many Obama – Rezko ethic issues with such zeal!
    Don't worry libs Sarah is not going to infringe on your right to kill babies . Your right to try to eliminate all religion and God will also be protected.

    After all the dems are the Party of Atheism – Anti-God -Pro-abortion and Pro-Drugs.
    A house built on that kind of foundation will surely crumble.

    July 9, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. sms29s

    John, if Palin is an example of a political giant in this country then our status as a super-power is very shaky.

    July 9, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. bill

    Gosh....will this woman ever go away!..please..she is a moron...by her own parties standards a s well. the repulbicans have filed plenty of ethics complaints against her...she is star struck...loves the media attention and to dumb to realize she is being laughed at and not with!........the coverage of her needs to stop! there is real news happening out there to report...and it's not the has been governor of alaska~

    July 9, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. AlwaysThinking

    I thought the only difference between Sarah Palin and a pitbull was lipstick. I guess that only holds true when you're given a nasty speech to say in front of an adoring crowd (sneer sneer, wink wink).

    Out in the big, bad real world, a better description of her would be ...a scare, whiny mouse.

    July 9, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. Joe in Austin

    she plays such a victim.

    July 9, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Ernesto

    Sarah Palin and her staff should be investigated and prosecuted if found to be in violation of the law. That's how it works. If there is not cause then there will be no prosecution. There certainly should be still penalties, including jail time, if convicted. NOBODY is above the law, unless they have a lot of money and political influence.

    July 9, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. JB

    Another great comment section from clearly the uneducated. Does anyone know how many of these ethics violations have been thrown out. . . .ALL OF THEM. They are garbage. They are a mosquito, annoying and costing her personally $500,000. If a repubican was doing this to Hillary, all of you liberal lemmings would be screaming bloody murder. One of these ethics complaints is regarding a jacket logo that the governor wore. Another, that she took her kids with her for work, and the cost was given to the State. She has since paid out of pocket. Did Obama pay out of pocket for bringing his kids to Russia? I would bet not. Someone needs to file an ethics complaint against him.

    July 9, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  15. Len in Washington

    So she WANTED this law making these claims easier but now wants to dodge them and says they're too expensive for the State's coffers.

    Makes you wonder about all her other "plans" and "directions for our Country".... doesn't it?

    A Quitter is a Quitter is a Quitter.

    July 9, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Ethics complaints will continue to dog Palin as long as she keeps trying to get away with things that she knows are wrong! She has no ethics herself, so she shouldn't be surprised that she keeps getting caught! Why is so hard for politicians to be honest?

    July 9, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. Terry from Texas

    Hey, I disapprove of public officials wearing advertising at public events. I don't want my governor endorsing a particular brand of cell phone or clothing. This is pretty basic. There are plenty of clothes without visible advertising on them.

    Next, we'll see cell phone commercials on the screen while we're trying to vote.

    July 9, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. Mark of Saint Louis

    She is a good person. That really bugs those libs.

    July 9, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. david, CA

    Palin is making it look easy for Dems to bring down Republicans. Just filing a bunch of lawsuits and ethics complaints is all it takes to force a Governor to resign these days? WOW! What are we waiting for?

    July 9, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. AlwaysThinking

    Mike: Normal, everyday people don't:

    – quit when the going gets tough (higher calling – right!)
    – steal from their employer (illegally taking a per diem from the people of Alaska)
    – incite people to do violence against people they disagree with ("Kill him!" at her rallies)

    I also desperately hope that most Americans are smarter than Palin.

    No, Palin isn't normal; she's a deluded narcissist who runs away from problems and loves to cast herself as a victim.

    July 9, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. jim-in-pa

    Well golly gee wow... thought if I would resign I couldn't be held accountable for anything I did while Governor. Jeesh....

    I'd love for her to run again for any office. First question her opponent should ask is "If things get tough, will be you resign and run away... AGAIN". A waste of Alaskan tax payers money was her paycheck the last couple of months.

    July 9, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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