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. Too True For You

    Run Sarah, run! Play the victim, spread more cynically calculated smokescreens of wronged innocence in your wake! Run away!

    This is one of the most appropriate examples of the saying "hoist by ones own petard" I have ever seen.

    July 9, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Bob in Pa

    You know, we have proof here in PA that government employees and funds were used to help run re-election campaigns. Not one of our idiots has been brought up on charges, removed from or resigned from office.

    This latest ethics complaint is more like a question. It is a gray area, "should she have been allowed to take the per diem". It is terrible to what extents the politicians in this country will abuse power to destroy someone that doesn’t agree with their point of view or they simply don't like.

    I will finally say I agree with some liberals in this country. We need some laws like Canada has put in place so she can turn around and sue these hypocrites for slander and defamation of character.

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

    Poor Sarah. Always the victim. Maybe if she would just go away noone would care what she did. Just a thought.....

    July 9, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. D

    Who cares why, I am just glad the idiot is leaving. Hopefully, she will go home and take care of her family; but you betcha her narsicism won't allow that.

    July 9, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Larry

    Sarah honey,

    You're charging the state a per diem to live at your own residence insteady of living at the governor's mansion?

    And you wonder why people call you stupid?

    July 9, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Brook Mantia

    Oh that's right...she comes from the party that makes up their own rules. I guess she's practicing for President, because as we all learned from Nixon and Bush: "Anything the President does is legal."

    July 9, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. Bill

    I guess Sarah doesn't want to live in the city where her job is located. Most people have to transfer for a new job out of town. Not Sarah, she stays at home and bills the Alaska taxpayers for doing so. The Governor's mansion isn't good enough for her. Nice.

    July 9, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Ben in Texas

    It's always Republicans saying, "If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear from an investigation." That's the line they always use when they're harassing somebody. Oh, but the meanies are trying to destroy poor Sarah! She destroys herself every time she opens her fat trap.

    Sarah, you can run (for president), but you can't hide (from the truth).

    July 9, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. F-Dog

    I find it humorous that Palin complains about the "politics of personal destruction" when all she does is attack people rather than discuss ideas.

    July 9, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Peter - Atlanta

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


    July 9, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Keith

    Ugh, is this woman ever going to go away? Why do stations keep seeing her as newsworthy? She's trash.

    July 9, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. J.Crobuzon

    She thinks she's above the law, and that anyone who defies her is going to be struck down from above. She's inefficient and ignorant, and is leaving Alaska in a big mess, and it's all the Horrible Media's fault. She didn't know these things were illegal when she did them, did she? Wink, wink. You betcha, and when one governor don't know 'socialism' from 'desperation' and another one thinks the Appalachian Trail is in Argentina, how can she be blamed for not knowing theft and malfeasance and corruption are crimes?
    She pushed for this law, and now she hates it? What a great recommendation to elect her to any other office. Sounds like she planned to be the one pushing ethics complaint after ethics complaint at the next governor.

    July 9, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. Tom

    There's a reason why she has ethics complaints against her.

    She's unethical.

    Per diem for working out of her home? $250k of "missing" clothes from her failed VP bid? Cmon, people, wake up to this train wreck.

    July 9, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Terry from Texas

    When someone files a suit against a Conservative, it is by definition a "frivolous" lawsuit.

    When a Conservative files a suit against a non-Conservative, it is a heroic stand against injustice.

    When a Conservative sues another Conservative, it is not a suitable topic for conversation.

    I have an expense account. It would never occur to me to bill my employer for my child's travel expenses. It would never occur to me to bill my employer for living expenses while I am in my own home. This gal is cooking the books.

    July 9, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. TCM

    someone should investigate the rampant filings of complaints; these are liberal-driven, and the people complaining will hopefully be punished. On another note, CNN should do some stories about the lack of ethics going on in the Obama administration....illegal firing of Walpin, Stim money doled out to Obama-favorable districts in amounts far exceeding McCain districts...the unethical appointment of numerous Czars (now 34, next highest amount by a president was 5) to carry on "end-runs," of congress to achieve Obama's socialistic dismantling of this country....although, some are getting clued in; as representative of the latest Rasmussen report, Obama down another 3, that's -8 in the past two days...and this isn't some Keating Holland CNN Research Poll...asking only 1020 people...

    July 9, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. ANGIE

    she's a pitbull(with no teeth). she should be able to handle things now that she QUIT her job.

    July 9, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Richard-Arkansas

    Why should she be able to claim her home as "per diem"? As the state's governor, she has a place in Juneau. She knew that the job came with some perks and the house in Juneau doesn't go away because she isn't there. The costs continue whether she elects to stay there or not. Maybe she should have sold it on EBAY for a profit like she did the state plane?

    When you go into politics you do live in a glass house and if she doesn't like it in Alaska, I would suggest that she find another occupation, There are a whole lot more reporters and people watchers when you get into more populated areas.

    July 9, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Brian0901

    I am tired of Palin. She is irrelavent. If she is your future, GOP I feel bad for you, then again you never were the smartest bunch now were you.

    July 9, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. No Incumbents 2010

    By preparing for a national speaking and book tour Palin has made herself a target. Too bad she didn't want to focus on Alaska state government.

    July 9, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. Mike

    Why are there no ethics complaints about obama taking his family all over the world but there are complaints when Governor Palin took her family a few places. obama is spending many, many millions for this and Governor Palin spend a few thousand. Both were for business trips for the government. Now that is change we can do without but change is coming probably in 2012. Go Romney and Palin.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. Florida Joe


    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. Debby, NJ...foot soldier 'til 2016

    Oh here we go with the poor Sarah crap...she put herself in this predicament..."Palin has signed a law making it easier to file such complaints"...Karma I say.

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Voter

    What a whiner.

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. mypitts2

    Yes, getting out really helped her deal with those ethics complaints. Smart move.

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. km

    So why would an ambitious woman, as she depicted herself as, for no apparent reason, all of a sudden quit?

    Yes, she made her argument, that Obama was less experience than hers and his judgement was questionable....Well, there is no doubt her judgment is not only questionable, but she doesn't demonstrate any to exercise, and her experience is only a wind of her imagination....I just can't believe we were about to put this lose-cannon one step next to the presidency of the U.S.A.

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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