Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ms. Disingenuous

A Sarasite's Ignore-ance

I wanted to find out if Sarasites knew how Governor Palin's legal debt came about, how much it actually amounted to, and to what degree the recent ethics complaint-filers were responsible for it. So, I had a little discussion the other night with RA Mansour of C4P in the comments under a post that likened Governor Sarah Palin to Joan of Arc. What actually happened was I asked a couple of questions and got a snarky non-answer and then silence:

ENNEALOGIC: I would appreciate very much someone who is knowledgeable about the "bankrupting" of the Palins to provide some information:

1) The figure of $500,000+ in legal fees: how was this incurred? I'm guessing these fees relate almost entirely to the Monegan-Wooten scandal, and only after VP Candidate Palin was advised by the McCain folks to say nothing to anybody without her own lawyers to run interference. But it would be nice to know the breakdown on this figure. Anyone here know?

2) How does it cost Governor Palin anything when someone files an ethics complaint against her? An ethics complaint isn't a lawsuit. She doesn't have to go to court. Doesn't the complaint get reviewed by the AG and then either thrown out or given to the Personnel Board for investigation? And isn't that investigation part of the job that the Board is paid for (by the state) whether there are complaints or not? If the complaints lack any foundation in law (e.g., if they are in fact "frivolous" as claimed), what would Governor Palin have to pay and to whom? If there is no wrongdoing, all she'd have to do is answer questions and I don't think the Board would charge her to do that.

Seems to me that only if there is wrongdoing would she consider hiring a private attorney to work out a settlement of some kind, which is probably what happened when she agreed to pay back around $9000 of the expenses she billed Alaska for her children's travel.

So, how do these ethics complaints end up costing her any money, much less "bankrupting" her?

RAM: Ennealogic, when a complaint is filed against her or her family personally (not her office), she has to hire a lawyer to defend herself.

ENNEALOGIC: RAM, none of the complaints that I am aware of are filed against her personally. They each relate to her obligations as an executive in the Alaska government.

Unless I'm missing something, could you please point out who has filed either a law suit or an ethics complaint against her that does not have to do with her role as Governor?

RAM: Ennealogic, uh, every one of the complaints allege personal benefit for her or her family. The one from yesterday does. The jacket complaint does. Even Troopergate did.

Naturally, all the complaints relate to her role as governor. Duh! If she were a private citizen they wouldn't be filing executive branch ethics complaints against her.

Are you being willfully obtuse?

ENNEALOGIC: RAM, thank you for re-stating what I said originally.

You said,
"Ennealogic, when a complaint is filed against her or her family personally (not her office), she has to hire a lawyer to defend herself."

Are you confident that this is how executive branch ethics complaints are handled? My initial question was about the process.

I believe it goes like this, but wanted to know if anyone had different information. The complaint is reviewed by the AG. If there is merit, the complaint is forwarded to the Personnel Board for further examination. If the complaint is unfounded, it is tossed. If the complaint is valid, then and only then would the Governor think that maybe she should have her own private attorney to negotiate a settlement or agreement.

In short, if the complaints were strictly of the nuisance variety, I don't see how Governor Palin would be out of pocket for anything. Do you?

(And I know you know what I'm talking about. Let's discuss this without casting aspersions.)

RAM: [no answer to my questions from then on, but in response to another poster...] Anyone defending these ankle-biting idiots is a complete ass.

Sarasitical Meme Origins

Sarasites can be heard chanting this meme of late:
These vile ankle-biters who keep filing ridiculous, frivolous ethics complaints want to bankrupt Sarah and leave her and her family in the poorhouse! They want to paralyze her and keep her from doing her job!

Not surprisingly, this idea that ethics complaints are causing severe financial hardship on the Palin family and creating conditions that make governing difficult originates from Sarah herself and her various spokespersons. (Bolding in the following quotes is mine.)

Are Alaskans outraged, or at least tired of this yet - another frivolous ethics charge by a political blogger? This would be hilarious if it weren’t so expensive for the state to process these accusations and for me to defend against these bogus harassments... How much will this blogger's asinine political grandstanding cost all of us in time and money?
~ Sarah Palin, March 24, 2009

I must defend against these baseless ethics accusations out of my own pocket as the use of public monies to do so could itself violate state law,” Palin wrote. [My note - Is this true? and what defense does one need if the accusation is baseless, anyway?]

[Palin's financial] disclosure said only that she owed “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” On Friday in the written statement, attorney Thomas Van Flein wouldn’t give a precise number but said it was “a substantial debt.” Palin said she didn’t have an exact figure yet but “the debt is over a half a million dollars.
~ Alaska Daily News, March 20, 2009
----- ===== -----
"Governor Palin has spent a considerable amount of time and money fighting ethics complaints – and no charge has been substantiated...

“These allegations are categorically false and ridiculous, and are an abuse of the Executive Ethics Act,” Nizich said...

“But obviously the purpose of this complaint and the previous ones is to distract the administration and the public, and to paralyze the Department of Law and the executive branch."
~ Mike Nizich, chief of staff, April 22,2009

The Sarasites either do not know or do not care that "Alaska's Joan of Arc" is asking them to pay for her failings while framing herself as a martyr for their cause. The Sarasites seem willing to accept the notion that unfounded ethics complaints have saddled the Governor with over $500,000 worth of legal bills, brought about by political opponents making bogus charges against her. Let's take a closer look at how the bulk of this financial liability was likely incurred.

Troopergate Redux

Let's all remember, please, that Troopergate did not start out as an ethics complaint! The Alaska Legislative Council was alarmed by Sarah's firing of long-time public servant Walt Monegan and initiated its own investigation, by a unanimous vote, in July, 2008. (The Council is a permanent interim committee of the Legislature and is responsible for conducting the business of the Legislature when it is not in session.)

The ethics matter was first brought to the Personnel Board by Sarah Palin herself on September 1, 2008, after she joined the national Republican ticket and reversed her promise of full cooperation with the Council's investigation. Suddenly, and without further explanation, the legislature no longer had a right to investigate her. (The court said they did have that right, but by then it was too late.)

According to an article last month in the Alaska Daily News,

Van Flein initially was hired by the state under a $95,000 contract to represent Palin in a legislative investigation of Troopergate.

Palin said she didn't think it would be fair to "sacrifice public monies to defend against something that was so politically charged."

Apparently Sarah was fine with the state paying the attorney in July and August. If Sarah would have let the Legislative Council do its job, her representation would not have cost her a dime. What was the real reason, then, that she hired her own attorney in the Troopergate matter? I found a clue in a comment made below a recent ADN article about the Alaska Fund Trust. A poster named Msimoniam provided this historical summary:

Everyone seems to forget that it is the Governor's choice to hire a private lawyer and pay for it on her own. Originally, Van Flein was hired to represent the Governor on state contract for Troopergate. That is perfectly legal and normal. That changed when Van Flein started consulting with the campaign and representing Todd too. It made his communications with people other than his client (Palin) subject to the Alaska public records act, thus open to the public. Thus, every communication he had as a state contractor with Todd, staff and McCain campaign people was not protected by attorney/client privilege.

So, Van Flein quickly became her private lawyer to avoid public record disclosure issues. It's Palin's choice to pay for it on her own, or get her supporters to pay, so that she can keep it all hidden. It also allows her to use her lawyer as a propaganda tool, which Van Flein happily did during the campaign. So for her to cry personal financial hardship is disingenuous.

Who's Scamming Who?

Whose fault is it that Ms. Disingenuous has significant legal bills? Any expense as a result of Troopergate was voluntarily incurred in an attempt to sidestep the legislative investigation. Any expense for other supposedly frivolous or bogus complaints needs to be supported by evidence which has yet to be provided. To this outside observer, it looks like Sarah is playing the victim yet again and trying to scam her devotees into paying bills for which she alone is responsible—not the "ankle-biters."

Sarah asked, "Are Alaskans outraged yet, or at least tired of this yet?"

I certainly think they should be. I know I am.
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