June 25th, 2010
09:05 AM ET
8 years ago

Palin fund unlawful, investigator says

Supporters of Sarah Palin have 90 days to return nearly $400,000 in donations raised by her legal defense trust.

Supporters of Sarah Palin have 90 days to return nearly $400,000 in donations raised by her legal defense trust.

(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."

Filed under: Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. NVa Native

    "afoul of state ethics laws" – forgive me for questioning – sounds like she is now a real Republican.

    June 25, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. Guy Montag

    I hope Palin takes a tumble off the bridge to nowhere.

    June 25, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. Common Sense Liberal Americans

    We all know trhat this woman is a lying crook , wait until her follower's finds out she hasn't been paying her taxes either................she's taking her supporter's cash and using it for her own personal gain , how come CNN ur not investigating that !

    June 25, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. Sniffit

    HAHAHA. This made coffee shoot out my nose. Stapleton's just angry because this messes up her resume...big time. "Manager of unethical legal defense fund" just doesn't seem to me to cut it with potential employers.

    June 25, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. Robert

    Well, now perhaps she can move forward and past the witch-hunt. But in reality – probably not because she is a huge threat to the loony left and they will stop at nothing.

    June 25, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. JC

    Of course she thought it was ok. Its like a gift that keeps on giving. haha

    June 25, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. G

    Don't get me wrong, Sarah was not experienced enough to be president (neither was obama by the way) but she was treated kinda shabby....All the law suits and investigations force her to get legal counsel which she cannot afford on a governors salary, so they have to create a defense fund. Then that causes these problems. I think that she and HIllary were treated badly partly because they are women and are outspoken. I think that the way the Media has behaved is unfair and pathetic.

    June 25, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Four and The Door

    Tim Petumenos, the Anchorage attorney hired to investigate the matter...
    ...and hoping to find his 15 minutes of fame in this pathetic legal stunt. Sad what's become of a once respectable profession.

    June 25, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. c

    GOOD, She needs to dissapear from the spotlight. I am Tired of hearing about this Racist Phuck

    June 25, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. rs

    Palin was just shakin' people down....

    June 25, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. ptarmigan

    with all the money she has made with her book and as a lame talking head, she needs a legal fund established??? Reminds me of when the rich kids would pass the hat at high school to help pay for a traffic ticket....

    June 25, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. WI despises Palin

    My dog is smarter than Palin.

    June 25, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Jack in Des Moines

    What the Democratic activist did to Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska should be frightening to EVERY politician across America. Political activist now know they can deluge an elected official with so many legal inquireries that it will impede the officials time in office. Even when the claims are bogus, attorneys and investigators must look into them at the State's expense. This leaves the elected official with the choice of letting the State incurr millions of dollars in legal fees, or resigning. These political action groups that do this, have millions of dollars at their disposal. They will grind our form of government to a halt with their petty games.

    June 25, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Bill from GA

    If she didn't mean to break the law, she should get to keep the money. Kinda like the illegal immigrants who broke into our country, they should get to stay in our country. NOT!

    June 25, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Jim Winski

    She didn't do this on purpose. She's just dumb as a box o' rocks.

    June 25, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. Ed - Spring, Tx

    She acted in good faith. She's just too stupid to know any better.

    June 25, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. RAG

    Yeah, she acted in "good faith". She's just an idiot.

    June 25, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Bob

    I can't understand how Sarah can't be held liable. She knows "everything" about everything. She would be stupid not to know the full legal ramifications of such an action.

    Oh, wait...now I get it.

    June 25, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. Capt. Snarky

    I guess she'll have to return the money then.........I'd be willing to bet she'll do it in short order, too.

    June 25, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. snow

    The findings show Governor Palin acted in good faith and immediately said she would pay back the money. No story here, why does CNN and others not write about botox nancy sending out campaign donation requests stating if the Republicans gain control of the house, the demorats will be facing ethic's investigations which she has stone walled while she has been speaker.

    June 25, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. JM

    Nice headline CNN. I don't know how you call yourselves journalists when the body of your stories contradict the headlines.

    June 25, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Chris - Denver

    if they put her in jail I hoper there's no twitter in there. I am so sick of hearing from this never-was.

    June 25, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. David

    Pathetic,the same defense fund put together by some of the same people as Bill Clintons and because of a word its ilegal?Clearly as Meg Srappleton points out,Obamas legal team who investigated this fund.Went out of their way to find fault with it.Well I guess that means a new donation of double the old one can now be sent .Just to help pay for the crap these idiots in her state put her through.Wearing a logo on a jacket.Ya thats unethical.I thought 90,000 in bribe cash in a freezer like the Democrat congressman in Louisianna was unethical.Not wearing a logo on a coat or speaking at a right to life event out of state.As far as her making $.Good for her its the USA not the USSR.

    June 25, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  24. unretired05

    I guess ignorance of the law is an excuse-in Alaska.

    June 25, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. JohnRJ08

    They say ignorance is no excuse under the law, but Palin is a special case. She's so stupid that she thinks the rest of the world is too stupid to notice how stupid she is, so she continues to say and do incredibly stupid things. I would give her a pass on this on the grounds that she's too stupid to know she did something this stupid.

    June 25, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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