(CNN) - Supporters of Sarah Palin have 90 days to return nearly $400,000 in donations raised by her legal defense trust after an investigator ruled the fund ran afoul of state ethics laws.
The defense fund – established in April 2009 when Palin was governor of Alaska – was deemed unlawful because organizers used the word "official" to describe the fund on its website and appointed a public employee with ties to Palin to serve as its trustee.
"The Trust, and its website soliciting donations, if the funds were to be accepted by Governor Palin, would violate the Ethics Act by using the Governor's official position for personal gain," Tim Petumenos, the Anchorage attorney hired to investigate the matter, concluded Thursday in his report.
Specifically, Petumenos was concerned that calling the trust "official" and appointing an employee of the state to administer it gave the fund the appearance it was sponsored by the state of Alaska.
"The test…[is] whether, as a matter of policy and good government, public officials should serve in the capacity as a private trustee to solicit and administer private funds for the benefit of other public officials. The answer would appear to be no," Petumenos wrote.
But Petumenos' report made clear Palin acted in "good faith" and showed no intent to willingingly breach state ethics laws.
"Though the two reasons why the Trust violates the Ethics Act are important, they are not so obvious as to impute knowledge to Governor Palin, especially as her attorneys did not advise her of the ethics problems. Therefore, the evidence supports Governor Palin's contention that any violation of the Ethics Act was not a knowing violation," Petumenos wrote.
Meg Stapleton, a former spokesman for Palin who was instrumental in establishing the legal fund, defended the trust's actions but said the former Republican vice presidential nominee has determined it is not worth fighting the investigator's conclusions.
"Governor Palin has reached a point where she decided to agree to resolve this matter with the investigator rather than spend time and money fighting an ethics complaint about a fund that was created to reimburse her for the money she has spent fighting bogus ethics complaints drawn up by insiders and outsiders violating and abusing Alaska law," Stapleton said in a post on Palin's Facebook page.
Stapleton also announced a new legal fund has been established to benefit Palin as a private citizen.
The investigator's report comes a year after Palin resigned her post as governor of Alaska, saying that several ethics complaints initiated be Democratic activists served as too big a distraction.
"I'm not going to put Alaskans through that," she said in her resignation speech on July 3, 2009. "I promised efficiencies and effectiveness. That's not how I'm wired. I'm not wired to operate under the same old politics as usual."
Uh oh.....now we call stupidity "acting in good faith"
Run Baby Run.....wink wink...you betcha.
Since when does not being aware of a violation mean that you are protected from punishment if you break it?
Oh MY! Ms. Palin did something untoward? I'm Shocked! SHOCKED I TELL YOU!!!!!
So, again – illegal by stupidity is her excuse? PUH-leez!
Didn't half-Governor Palin have her staff call the Department of Law for instructions on this?
Just another in a long list of ethics questions surrounding the former Governor. This woman has not me a law she couldn't bend, twist, or break to her advantage. And this is the spokesperson for the Tea Party? Nice.
Ha.. and Palin tries to label President Obama as a an evil "community organizer" while she touts her experience as a governor of a state that has less people than the city I live in!... but here she can't even connect the dots when she breaks the law!!?? I can't respect a quitter!!
Um, Palin isn't the governor anymore. So, is it really illegal?
I wouldn't give her a cent, not even my cat's waste.
I was screaming about the illegality of this months ago. Thanks for listening!
Not to brightest bulb in the light fixture now is she.
Sarah Palin is the best person ever, thank you Sarah for being the cause of entertainment on SNL. Oh yea.
She'll still blame the boogey-man MSM for this.
If I get this straight, Palin has consistently run afoul of ethics laws in her home state, while never 'intending' to break the rules for personal gain. (per diem rules, travel reimbursement rules, trooper gate, wardrobe excesses, now defense funds) Perhaps Palin is just ethically challenged.
How many millions of dollars did Mrs. Pailin earn last year from her book? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars does she continue to earn monthly with her many speaking engagements and her FOX position? How many millions is she getting from her next book?
Now why exactly does she need public assistance in the form of a legal fund?
Not surprising.The Alaskan Air Head is operating as best she can – wired as she is. Like a nasal drip she cannot help herself. Annoying to the point of illegal.
That's a surprise. Really...it is. Oh, sarcasim. This woman's got more ethic violations then any public servant currently around.(Not even mentioning she left office due to not making enough money as gov. of Alaska.)
Comes as no surprise she'd try and use office for personal gain. President Palin anyone?
Calling something she is involved in "Trust" is also false advertising. Just joking folks I have always been able to trust Gov. Palin. Trust her to on the wrong side of 90% of the issues.
I will just add this.Palins better off having the freedom to give speeches and attack the socialist agenda of this progressive Wodrow Wilson wanabee WH.I am glad she ruined the carears of those AK bloggers and made them irrelivant by stepping aside.Rather than being bankrupted and costing the state of AK further millions just to keep a title.No other govenor in America has to pay out of pocket to defend such nonsense and those bloggers knew it.No other govenor has had to defend such crap,just to serve the people.She is better off fighting Obama rather than those clowns.To all of you who call her a quitter.Words getting out as to why.People who do not follow politics like many of my friends.Change their opinions after they find out what happened.
Conclusion, she is simply stupid but not a criminal
Could the media please give us a 6-month moratorium on any news whatsoever about this woman? She is a clown, so unless she is going to perform in a circus or a children's TV show, enough!!
The investigator is being kind to Palin when he says the violations were unintentional (and they very well may have been) but it is indicative of her sloppiness with facts that also turned end of life consultations into death panels.
If a prominent Democrat had made a similar unintentional mistake, however, I imagine Palin would be all over that with condemnations.
Give me a break!! She's soliciting funds for her legal problems?!? She makes 6 figures every time she appears and opens her yap. She has the money to defend herself! Why is she asking others for money? This woman has no shame. She's an empty hollow bag of wind looking out for only one person – herself...
Can someone please tell me why she would need a legal fund when she's traipsing around the country getting paid big time for her appearances. Seems she can use some of that money for her own defense. Would not get a red cent from me!!!! Hope you people don't contribute and just make her richer while there are so many of us who don't know where our next meal might be coming from.