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

Ethics complaints still dog Palin

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/07/palin.future/art.palin.gi.jpg caption="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. Ruty

    For God's sake Sarah do something with that mop of hair. You are a grandmother --not a teeny bopper anymore. Grow Up and Shut up.

    July 9, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  2. New Yorker

    It figures that those who vehemently oppose Palin and still know she is a threat to their destructive plans for this country are constantly trying to bring her down. The very morons who make these accusations probably have real skeletons in their closets which could destroy them in an instant if revealed. Oh no, I forgot, we have that double standard which applies.

    July 9, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Politics of personal destruction? She's brought all of this drama upon herself. Some people just don't have thick skin like the rest of us in the lower 49. I knew from the moment of hearing the racial slurs at her rallies that she was a dispicable person. Also Troopergate led me to believe that she was unethical and that she only cares about herself. I just loved the Dave Letterman answering machine jokes from the other night.

    July 9, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  4. FL

    Sounds like Andree McLeod has an ax to grind and doesn't care about her state. Maybe she's friends with the Murkowski bunch. Sad thing is the state is in fact wasting a lot of money to deal with these mostly trivial suits. Too bad sore losers can't let it go and do what is best for everyone. Now that Palin has stepped down, it is time for the all the silly lawsuits to stop unless they can come up with something that she really did wrong, meaning she actually broke a law or ethics code. I don't even particularly care for Palin and I hope she doesn't run for president, but anyone with half a brain can see that this whole situation is in fact a waste of the state's resources, and the people filing all the nonsense just have a vendetta.

    July 9, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Ensign = Unethical
    Sanford = Unethical
    Palin = Unethical
    Craig = Unethical

    Where are those moral Republican values?

    July 9, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  6. she has brought every bit of this on herself

    at some point, not yet, I will feel sorry for her

    having seen her presidential campaign and all the nasty things she said, it will be a while longer for me to feel sympathy for her

    all the same, her family should be left alone

    July 9, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. dave

    she does have potential to be the hottest President

    July 9, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. HBO

    When you live in a glass house, you shouldn't throw stones. The boomer-rang effect is in full effect! I think karma is the reason all these things are happening to this lady (and her family).

    Anytime someone gets so much joy and excitement from heaping hateful words and slanderous accusations toward others, it's only a matter of time before they live to regret it.

    July 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. John

    Palin should sue her accusers. Behind them are the instigation and funding of the Democrat machinery that is scared of her popularity that threatens their domination of the Congress and the White House. It is time the Republican Party helps her to counter their political enemies.

    July 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. yuri

    We are still eagerly awaitin' the onset of such investigation, as a fact findin' mission. Let the truth be told.

    July 9, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. Bludgeon

    If she was claimiing per diem by staying home in Wasilla, she is guilty of an ethics violation on its face. Per diem is for expenses away from home.

    July 9, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. hockeybear1

    Hey, Sarah, just go away. And take Jeb with you.

    July 9, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Who Said?

    CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn would be a better reporter if he were to investigate the investigators. Kudos to him for reporting the name of one complaintant, not counting the brother-in-law, but why doesn't CNN name and investigate the motives of all of those filing complaints. It's the only way to be fair and balanced.

    Journalism 101

    July 9, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. DT

    LOL at her thinking if she jus left office...all those charges would go away...just lol. We'll see how much of a "Fighter" she is now...

    July 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. James

    Since lawyers own the Democratic party it is second nature for them to file frivilous ethic complaints at a ridiculouse expense to the taxpayer. Look at how the Dem's are wasting our money now in Washingtion – paying off the unions and other supporters with a supposed stimulus. By the way McLeod is not a Republican or even an Indep. I am waiting to see more classes jokes in this commentary from liberals about Palin's child Trig.

    July 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. nomoresarah

    at least Ms Palin follows her own advice, "if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen"

    July 9, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

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

    Then she shouldn't be quitting! She was asking for this legislation before she was even governor. I guess it backfired on her huh?

    July 9, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. white supremacist = al qaeda =hamas = terrorism

    She need to stop appealing to the non educated trash talkers and haters that constitute only 21% of the Population. She need to Go to school and get some education, which will make her a real power. She has no intellectual substance at the moment.

    July 9, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. David

    Palin is self destructing without any help from anybody else. She needs to take personal responsibility for how things are going for her.

    BTW CNN, the photo attached to this blog is the nicest I've seen of her.

    July 9, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. Deb

    Please just go away!

    July 9, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. GOPer

    Palin is a disaster for the GOP. She is being dogged by the ethics law she passed. She is stepping down due to the ethics law she passed. She will not go away and unfortunately for the GOP, she is here to stay. She will drag down the party and in the process, blame the media. We already elected one dense President (GW Bush), Americans won’t do it again in the same generation.

    July 9, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. andy

    Palin continues to be attacked by liberals because they are afraid of her. She is smarter and has more abilty than any liberal in congress and this bothers them.

    July 9, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. george from alaska

    sarah palin is a consumate con artist. alaskans know this well. why is she being "persecuted"? it is because she is a snake in pious clothes (pun intended). her dream is to move our capital to wasilla at the economic destruction of all juneau families. that is her "politics of destruction" as she constantly yaps about.

    she portrays herself as a protector of children, yet in her resignation press release of her accomplishments as governor it says not one word about children whatsoever!

    you folks in the lower 48 need to take a cue from the folks up here that have woken up to her selfish nonsense. wake up and smell the coffee
    america or you & your children's children will be paying for it.

    July 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. Eric Ragle

    If she hasn't violated the ethics code, why did she repay the $8000 in travel expenses she saddled the state with?

    And what's up with a self-proclaimed Conservative setting up a fund to receive welfare to offset her legal woes?

    July 9, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. Russ

    Whaaa, Whaaaa. At least when she couldn't stand the heat she got out of the kitchen. Now if she would just go away.

    July 9, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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