Palin’s Milllllions of Dollars!
Part of Palin’s reason for quitting the governorship, so she says, is financial. Why should the state be spending “million of dollars” in dealing with “frivolous ethics complaints” and frivolous lawsuits and just general…frivolity? Heck, according to the governor, the frivolity takes up 80% of the administration’s time these days. And that’s a lot!
Think for a moment what we could be doing with that money. We could be funding the State Troopers! No, we haven’t really done that before, but we could do it now. We could fund teachers! OK, we wanted to cut that stimulus money for education, but still. We could fund all sorts of things if it weren’t for those darned ethics complaints that are just sucking the state coffers dry. What would any good fiscal conservative do? Exhibit leadership by quitting, that’s what.
So for the good of Alaska, Governor Palin decided to extend her arms to the side, look up to the heavens, lean forward and fall on the sword. There she lies, skewered like a big mavericky h’ors d’oeuvre. For Alaska. It is “self sacrifice” - the kind of which most political martyrs only dare to dream.
There’s only one problem with that story. The key reason Palin gave for quitting may be… buckle your seatbelts… FALSE.
David Murrow, a spokesperson for the Governor, said in an interview that much of this money was budgeted to the lawyers in advance and would have gone to them anyway, even if state lawyers hadn’t been defending against these ethics complaints.
In response to our questions, the Governor’s office provided us with a detailed breakdown of the millions Palin has claimed has gone to defending against ethics complaints. It does list roughly $1.9 million in expenditures.
But Murrow, the spokesperson, acknowledged to our reporter, Amanda Erickson, that this total was arrived at by adding up attorney hours spent on fending off complaints — based on the fixed salaries of lawyers in the governor’s office and the Department of Law. The money would have gone to the lawyers no matter what they were doing. The complaints are “just distracting them from other duties,” Murrow said.
In other words, while these lawyers might have been free to do other legal work for the state, the ethics complaints have apparently not had the real world impact Palin has claimed, and didn’t drain money away from cops, teachers, roads and other things.
And, of course, the Personnel Board’s members are paid per diem. And all the records requests and email requests all come with exorbitant price tags, paid for by those who request to see them. That $2 million is looking smaller all the time.
For those who want some additional number crunchery, do go visit Mel Green’s posts on the topic. The first one (HERE) talks about the breakdown of the dollars spent on ethics complaints, but was written before Palin’s backtracking explanation of where the “$2 million” number came from. I’ve talked about the ethics complaint breakdown too, but I didn’t have a snazzy pie chart like this:
I’m a sucker for a pie chart, and what this one says is that between the Troopergate probe that she herself initiated, the other Troopergate probe that found her guilty of ethics violations, the investigation that resulted in reimbursing the state for her children’s travel expenses, and the one that suggested ethics training for a top member of the administration… the biggest chunk of that pie is the governor’s doing and belongs right on the governor’s plate.