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. Al-NY,NY

    TCM/July 9th, 2009 11:28 am ET–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…: SO I guess this person McLeod A REGISTERED REPUBLICAN who has filed 4 complaints against the lipstick FIDO is "liberal driven"?? Get a clue

    July 9, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. MADinAZ

    She cut and ran; forget about her.

    July 9, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. pat c

    i hope sarah does run for the presidential nominee in the gop. the others especially romney will eat her alive. she will never make it out of the gate and will hopefully learn early that she is not qualified to do anything except hate speeches against president obama. it will take her running against her own party to realize she is not smart enough to be president.romney jindel,pawlenty and especially gulliani will boil her in oil. this will make for perfect TV in 2012. can't wait to see self distruction for sarah.

    July 9, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Pat F

    She's an uppity woman! How dare she leave the kitchen and pursue politics. Even worse – REPUBLICAN politics!

    Sexism is the most at home in the Democratic Party – they can pretend to be PC while crucifying her for being a woman.

    July 9, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. JA/TN

    no ethical problems with this straight laced evangilical christian, surprise, surprise

    July 9, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. tee

    With all her smarts and ability. Why did she quit?......Afraid of her?,,,,,,,,,,,I don't think so.......Most of the Dems are smarter then her....I think you're thinking with the wrong head.

    July 9, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Once You Vote Black

    At this point the GOP could not pop a boner. All this "but what about Obama, and they don't like us cause were are GOP" is part of why the homos feel like they can move on you now. The GOP is weak!

    July 9, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. kevin

    Liberal Schmiberal. What does the media being liberal have to do with Palin's questionable ethics, weak education and lack of serious qualifications to be the president of a school board let alone the USA?

    Why are the conservative defending this cotton headed ninny muggins? Surely the GOP can come up with a good looking, "SMART" person and not just someone that can read off a teleprompter.

    July 9, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. Ron In California

    Lefties tactical play book says to keep them off balance by using all means available. The content of most of the ethics vilolations were garbage and found to be without merit. I may not agree with her quitting....but I certainly understand it.

    July 9, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Expat American

    What happened to the pit-bull with lipstick? She now appears more like a whipped govt. mule…She acted like a racist bully during her weak campaign for Vice President...but everyone knows that a bully is nothing than a coward and a weakling – no matter how ‘pretty’ and ‘Christian’ you are.

    The sexy pageant one-piece, wink, smile and folksy white trash redneck trailer jargon only worked for a little while. She’s yesterday trash queen and yesterday’s news.

    July 9, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. MatthewDetroit

    I just love how she frightens all you Dems so bad. Especially the women. All you women just freak out. Go look up the definition of hysterical and where it comes from. Clearly they had Dem women in mind. Lack of focus and inability to put together a logical argument.

    July 9, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Fla.


    I'm sorry, but do you not see the ironic hypocrisy in your misguided contempt? If you want someone to extend you or Palin respect, perhaps it starts with treating others with that same respect first. Just a suggestion.

    "Ye reap what ye sow."

    July 9, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. tee

    I think you have a secret crush on President Obama. Your ramblings make no real points.......just pure nonsense

    July 9, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. JB

    What they are doing to this woman is disgusting. Filing ethics complaints because there was a logo on her clothing. My god, we could go after Obama everyday. He was wearing Lands End the other day. Regardless of if you are a D or R, or if you like Palin or not, you have to admit they are destroying this woman thru frivolous lawsuits. That is wrong.

    July 9, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. stay on the porch

    When you live in a glass house and have a glass chin one shouldn't throw stones. Run with the big dogs or stay on the porch.

    July 9, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. Steve in WI

    Note that several of these complaints came from a Republican. There is plenty of hatred for Palin on both sides in AK, which has to be a big reason for quitting. By the way there is nothing trivial about billing the state for travel – the per diem expense – when staying at home. That would result in an instant termination at my employer.

    July 9, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. Gee Wiz

    When I was growing up; women like Sara were called AIR HEADS!!!!!

    July 9, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Sucker punched by Obama

    Go Sarah Go! Gotta love that this is stirring up all those idiots who get their news from Saturday night live!!

    July 9, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Artie

    What a useless person. Stay home in Alaska.

    July 9, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. Reformed Republican

    Palin has the intellectual power of a stump and a civics education of a 2nd grader – No wonder she has a loyal following in the GOP "base". Actually, they should be labeled as "GOP baseless" for clarity.
    Remember "base", a vote for Palin will help elect dems with a brain so "Balin' Palin In 2012!"
    You betcha'...

    July 9, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Darren

    Why don't all the republicans try and form their own nation perhaps in the South East US somewhere ? That way they can remain even more isolated from the World and run their own brand of pseudo totalitarian control ? They always speak of "fighting against big government" and issues like that but as soon as you bring up issues like oppossing war and religious tolerance they get all fascist on you and claim you are not a true Roman –err American.

    Repubiclan extremism and religious extremism – be it Christian fundamentalist or islamic is going the the way of the dodo in a world moving towards harmony and peace.

    July 9, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. John H.

    Poor, poor Sarah. She just does not know the first thing about being a public servant. She and her milquetoast hubbie should just disappear. The whole world would be a better place for all of us.

    July 9, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    @ andy...
    if you really believe that statement you made about libs being afraid of Sarah Palin is true I got some swamp land here in Texas I KNOW I can get you a good price on.

    July 9, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  24. You had your window Repubs, and you blew it!

    If you claim that Sarah Palin is smart you automatically lose all credibility in your post. The End!

    July 9, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. butterfly

    Politics of personal destruction?
    Hmmmmmmm, security had to be strengthened during the Presidential campaign after little Ms. Palin proceeded to play the politics of personal destruction with President Obamas life.

    Palls around with terrorists(that statement put together with his middle name was a recipe for disaster)
    Who is he really?
    He's not like us

    Sarah, when you stir fear and hatred that put a man's life at risk(a man with a wife and two children who love him), then you best be able to take any heat coming your way. You were disgusting during the campaign. When you said the words "Community Organizer" with disdain in your voice , you disrespected many Americans who are in the trenches trying to make a difference. Eff you.

    July 9, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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