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. stevetall

    Step down, write your book, and pose nude in Playboy. Really, we've seen it all before, Sarah. You and Rush Limbaugh should simply fade into the sunset!

    July 9, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    The new media need to leave Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on her decision to step down. But if Sarah Palin continue to talk to the media go get her

    July 9, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. Sharon Kitchen

    from the tiny gov, with the big expensive tastes, clothes(oh-she paid that back)/to jetting/-wait-she said she put that on e-bay(but did not)/to a home built (free?) , by the same people that built that(great hockey-area), just down the street.....in little wasilla, (wait.....did not the Sen she used to work for that went to trial, for his house being worked on for free......seems she was his campaign worker....oh that is where she learned this stuff.....stevens.....and then do not forget young......yeh....that's the two..)....boy she sure has been busy.
    NO wonder she needs a break.
    But realy.....you think she is just taken' a break....no way.....she's goin' be getting all the money she round up.....don't ya know.......
    Look out world.......see......McCain gave her a sense of what running a National camgaine could feel like.......oh well......she better get a shopin' for all those travel clothes she'll need.....is that little reused clothing store.....still open?
    Just when ya think she's done........up she pops.
    Liked those wadders though.....nice touch.

    July 9, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. Sian

    At least she had the good sense to quit before her misdeeds diminish her party any further, unlike her peers who insist on fighting to the bitter end.

    July 9, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  5. Once You Vote Black

    Pullin' a Palin," is currently defined by urbandictionary.com as:

    1. Quitting when the going gets tough; abandoning the responsibility entrusted to you by your neighbors for book advances and to make money on the lecture circuit.

    July 9, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  6. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Ah the liberal politics of personal destruction continue. Watch them whine though when it happens to them. They then call it racism, sexism or bigotry. It is still just all sick hatred and the liberals are such professionals at spreading it.

    July 9, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  7. Bill, Bloominton IL

    Alaskans would realize Palin isnt that bad if they would move to Illinois where ethics do not matter.

    July 9, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Tulsa

    Her popularity is rising?
    Good one!

    July 9, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. GI Joe

    Sounds like she wanted to know ALL about others, but doesn't like the same in her case. She's rotten to her spoiled little corrupt core.

    July 9, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. nick

    What did she say? I would hate to go to Alaska and have to ask her for directions. I would wind up in Mexico.

    July 9, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  11. Once You Vote Black

    Why are there no ethics complaints about obama taking his family all over the world but there are complaints when Governor Palin

    Because Obama has whipped the stuffing out of the GOP to the point that they no longer have the ACORNS to fight back.

    July 9, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. Arlene Bailey

    Gov Palin's opponents have been unusually hostile and nasty to her to extremes and certainly not justified. Is this what the democrats have lowered themselves to, rudeness and destruction?

    July 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. Bev - NYC

    The Oscar for Professional Victimhood goes too Sarah Palin, you are a target because of your actions, take some personal responsibility. You choose to bring your brood on trips they were not invited too at State's expense because you thought you could get away with it. You choose to use the power of the governor's office to get back at your sister's ex-husband and settle scores. What happened to country or state first, I guess it only applies to the wrong doings of others, and not the republican pin-up. Get over yourself, the rest of us have.

    July 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. JPublic

    Were do sign up to file ethics violation complaints for Obama firing the CEO of GM? Any answers from democracts... Yea...right

    July 9, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. Hugo

    So does that mean that these Junkets and world tours that our House and Senate have been taking on our tax dime will now be under the same scrutiny? Don't the Obama girls look so beautiful in Italy? Vote them all out in 2010 and 2012, our government is a total failure, they are all only loyal to their lobbyist masters!

    July 9, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. km

    Russian Tv will be providing some light on her resignation!

    July 9, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. once upon a horse

    to me the interesting thing about soon to be ex-Gov Palin is that more people from her own party are coming out with negative things to say about her, heck I just read a commentary here on CNN from a Republican that is not very impressed with her. This lets me know she only appeals to a certain portion of the GOP base..the far right Limbaugh-lovers and it's that portion that has cost the GOP elections the past few times out. Now that the religious right can't honestly claim the GOP being the party of "family values" anymore with a straight face, what are they going to lean on? With her own daughter having a baby out of wedlock and thrust into the spotlight started the fall of that platform right there.

    July 9, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. R in Maine

    Naturally she is still dogged by complaints. The only reason to seek election in Alaska is to have more too sell.

    July 9, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. To: TCM

    I think someone should investigate you

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. John

    Politics are a freak show magnet. Palin doesn't want to miss her opportunity to bath under the lights of the big top circus tent. Maybe she has a second head hiding under her arm pit.

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Gee Wiz

    Pore, Pore Sara, she is a quitter, she is quiting on the folks of Alaska, she can't take the heat. If she were president how would she react when a Muslim leader made a pass at her.

    FLASH Sara has some deep dark secrets, lurking in her dark past. These things will haunt her in her pursuit of the presidency. Good yuck Sara.

    July 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |

    If this is so then OBAMA's trips and future trips for rest tours should not be allowed for filing travel expenses either. LET'S CALL A SPADE A SPADE.

    July 9, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. You had your window Repubs, and you blew it!

    I'm not sure I understand, she said she was a pit bull and yet she tucked her tail between her legs and ran.

    Now that's what I call a true red-blooded American. A tough talker but when things heat up, RUN!!!!!!!!!!

    But we already had a nice example of this with people afraid to house the inmates at Guantanamo Bay in the US, even though we already house terrorists and murderers, but apparently 300 million Americans can't handle a few hundred inmates. Plus, in States like Texas and Alabama, those guys would blend in so well that no one would find them.

    Cowards, all of you.

    July 9, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. Shawn - GA

    I love it how any Palin sotry goes to 300+ comments in minutes... yet more than 85% are people saying enough already with her... etc.

    If you really didn't care and if she was so unimportant, than stop commenting. Without all the attention given then CNN and others will move on. LOL people are very funny.

    July 9, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Gary SC

    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.

    That leaves $1667797. That was there before she hit the National stage in Aug 08. So how is that a dem thing? Sounds like shes been screwing Alaska long before we got to meet her.

    I still laugh when I hear. " I didn't do anything wrong, but I'm gonna pay it back"
    You sure your not from South Carolina?

    July 9, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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