That was the claim coming from the office of Governor Sarah Palin, who likes to use the phrase “frivolous ethics complaints.” That was nine days ago.
Today, we learn that “millions of dollars” is in fact, actually $296,000, as far as ethics complaints go. Numbers shmumbers.
The complete breakdown is not yet available, but we do know this about the three spendiest ones:
$187,797 stemmed from the Troopergate investigation, a good chunk of which Palin initiated herself. We’ll get back to that.
$43,028 stemmed from a complaint by Andree McLeod which resulted in a recommendation that a state employee undergo ethics training for a series of “troubling emails.”
$29,962 most likely came from the “travel gate” investigation in which Palin reimbursed almost $10,000 for expenses billed to the state for her children’s travel expenses.
That’s the top three, none of which sound particularly “frivolous.” So once we crunch the numbers, it’s highly likely that the most expensive investigation brought about by an individual, is Palin’s investigation of herself. And let’s just review that one more time.
The Legislature found enough evidence to approve $100,000 to investigate Palin’s firing of the Commissioner of Public Safety, in light of accusations that he was dismissed for not firing her ex-brother-in-law with whom there was bad blood. They spent $75,000 of the money allocated, and the bipartisan Legislative Council (composed of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats) voted unanimously to go forward. An independent investigation by someone that they all agreed to found that Palin violated the Executive Branch Ethics Act. They unanimously voted to release that decision to the public.
As a counter-measure, and a panicked move to look good during the campaign, Palin (with the advice from the McCain cadre of lawyers headed up by Ed O’Callaghan who had no license to practice law in the State of Alaska) initiated her own ethics complaint against herself, knowing that the outcome would be decided by a friendly panel of governor-appointed people who report to her. Guess what? They found her innocent, and refused to even investigate the matter of testimony from Palin that went completely against testimony from the former commissioner. Frivolous ethics complaint? No….a calculated one that the state paid for.
What did the legislature do about their own $75,000 investigation that found the governor in violation of the Ethics Act? Nothing. So, why did we, as a state, pay that $75,000? What did we get for that money? Maybe that’s the question we should be asking.
Speaking of not knowing what you get for your money…
Palin herself reportedly has incurred over $600,000 in personal legal bills defending against complaints, although she won’t provide a breakdown of the expenses or what cases they were for. Palin friends and supporters set up a legal defense fund and are soliciting contributions for her legal bills.