Tuesday, April 27, 2010 3 Responses
Yesterday we learned that another “ethics” complaint that was filed against Governor Palin was dismissed as baseless. (If you are counting, the Governor is 26-0-1 regarding such complaints or suits, with one still pending). Only this complaint was actually filed after she left office, and alleged that the mere existence of the Alaska Fund Trust (the legal defense fund set up for her to help defray the costs incurred during the Troopergate fiasco and related machinations that followed in its wake) was violative of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act as well as its solicitation or receipt of contributions. The raison d’être of the legal defense fund was inexorably linked to Governor Palin’s nomination as the Republican candidate for Vice President and the post-nomination political tactics arising therefrom; thus making the nomination sine quo non for the fund. In a detailed opinion, the complaint was dismissed as lacking a factual or legal basis. Last June, upon learning that a complaint against the Governor’s Anchorage Office Director was dismissed as baseless, Governor Palin’s then Chief of Staff Mike Nizich said, “This is not about holding the governor or state employees accountable. This is pure harassment.” That still rings true today.
When I discussed this with Governor Palin, she had an interesting take: “My reaction upon reading the opinion in this matter was not what I expected. Though I’m always pleased with the results of these investigations that prove the false allegations wrong, and I appreciate the detailed reasoning set forth in this recent opinion, I was primarily disappointed that the State of Alaska, the Attorney General’s office, and others, still have to spend time and resources addressing the abusive onslaught of frivolous complaints directed against me—even after I left office.”
At times (indeed, as recently as Sunday in a magazine cover story) people allege that the “real” reason Governor Palin stepped down was to “make money” (citing primarily her best selling book). As this most current complaint again emphasizes, Governor Palin stepped down for the right reasons—she did not want to see her state government continue to get bogged down with inane “ethics” complaints that were transparently political, plainly partisan, and diverting state resources. The voluntary relinquishment of power for the greater good is normally praised as an example of true leadership—just review any biography of George Washington—and it should be in this case as well. But for those who seek power for the sake of power, a selfless act is confusing, so a new narrative is created, such as the “profit” motive now being asserted with renewed vigor. Rest assured Sarah Palin had obtained approval to write her memoir while still in office without running into any conflict with the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Her financial future from her best selling book, though unknown then, would not have altered much whether she stayed in office or resigned, except the number of “ethics” complaints did dramatically decrease, so any legal fees associated with such complaints decreased concomitantly.
Let this latest dismissed complaint serve as a reminder for one of the real—and stated—reasons for her voluntary relinquishment of office, an office she campaigned for diligently, tirelessly and effectively. It stands as a marker that occasionally, every so often, there are public servants who can recognize the difference between self-interest and public interest. Sarah Palin is one such public servant.
- Thomas Van Flein, personal attorney for Sarah Palin