Alaska Fund Trust – Who Knew?
Well, the dust-storm kicked up yesterday by the leaking of the investigator’s findings regarding the Alaska Fund Trust is still raging. Presumably taken off-guard, the Palin administration and the Alaska Fund Trust have been scrambling.
A three-page, single-spaced, 10 pt. type press release just came from Kristan Cole, the Trustee of the Alaska Fund Trust. This is serious stuff.
The usual Palin melodrama is present in the first sentence of the release, citing “the unusual letter that was leaked yesterday, the contents of which are unprecedented in the history of our country.” This unusual letter is an investigator’s report regarding an ethics complaint filed by Alaska resident Kim Chatman. In the complaint, Chatman asks whether the Alaska Fund Trust is, in itself, legal.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Did the governor’s supporters create the fund independent of any actions on the part of the governor? Was she involved in this, or was it simply a bunch of friends getting together and creating it as a surprise. Was it sanctioned or not? That’s actually a pretty important piece to this complicated puzzle. In the report from investigating attorney Tom Daniel, he stated:
If third parties created the legal defense fund completely on their own, free from any direction, influence, or guidance from the governor, it would not seem that the governor “used her position” in violation of the statute.
In Cole’s press release today she states quite clearly:
I want to be clear on a point that has been misrepresented: The Governor is not and was not involved with the Trust. The Governor has never worked on or with the Trust. The Governor has not even accepted or requested one penny from the Trust or quite frankly anything of me. And I have never expected anything from her. Really, it’s quite the contrary; as I, and many other caring folks across the country have only sought to help with this legal burden.
The first and only time I have spoken with the Governor about the Trust was yesterday to alert her that I was responding to this violation of the law and leak of preliminary and confidential materials from the complaint.
So, according to Kristan Cole, the Governor’s long-time friend, she has never spoken to the Governor about the Alaska Fund Trust until yesterday. It was thought up, researched, created, launched, and was actively soliciting donations for Sarah Palin and she had never discussed it with her. And since the governor knew nothing about it, nobody can say that she “used her position” in violation of the statute. Remember that for later.
It becomes necessary here to take a little trip in the Mudflats time machine. Climb aboard and let’s set the dial back to March of this year. At that time, there was much talk and speculation about Sarah Palin’s then up-and-coming legal defense fund. It was quite a story for a few days, with some interesting twists and turns. The governor had been complaining profusely about the legal bills that were piling up from her personal attorney. Here’s what she had to say then:
“Obviously we cannot afford to personally pay these bills — and really no future governor should feel the sense of financial vulnerability at the hands of those with a political vendetta bent on personal destruction,” Palin wrote. “Some have suggested a legal fund to pay these bills. We’ll have to pursue that.”
We. We will have to pursue a legal fund. Hm.
Now, think back if you will to April 7, when a certain Texas businessman and owner of a U-Haul dealership named Clayton Paslay decided to set up a legal defense fund for the governor. He was all excited to help out. He thought Sarah Palin was swell. He got the idea from Bill O’Reilly, who said he’d be the first one to donate to it. So, according to Clayton Paslay, he called Thomas Van Flein and talked to him about it first. After getting the thumbs up, he went for it.
According to the organizer,the defense money raised will go directly to Thomas Van Flein, Governor Palin’s private attorney.
Clayton Paslay, a businessman who splits his time between Texas and Southern California, set up the fund. [snip]
Clayton tells me that he has never met the Governor, but set up the fund because he wants her “to get a fair shake.” [snip]
Mr. Paslay says he filed all the federal election legal papers for the special fund and spoke with Governor Palin’s attorney. I called Mr. Van Flein’s office and they confirmed that the fund is legitimate.
It took less than 24 hours for the Palin camp to come out with a statement completely disavowing this rogue fund, stating that nobody should be donating to it. This from the Anchorage Daily News Politics Blog:
There’s buzz today about a new legal fund created for Gov. Sarah Palin. But the family spokeswoman says it’s not sanctioned by Palin. “It’s not official. Neither the governor nor her attorney can accept monies from a group like this. There is one that is in the process of being established,” said Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton.
So, basically, nobody had any idea who the heck this Texas U-Haul dealer guy was, and they certainly didn’t want him collecting money for the governor, even though he stated that he spoke to Palin’s lawyer Thomas Van Flein, the presumed recipient of all this money, and it was all just fine with him.
Their concern about people donating? It wasn’t sanctioned by Palin. It wasn’t “official.” Hm.
The governor’s spokeswoman Meg Stapleton then released the following statement on the SarahPAC website:
“At this time, we ask you to please hold your much appreciated donation and keep checking back here for the link to the Alaska Fund Trust, the official legal defense fund that will be announced shortly to help the family and state colleagues pay off legal debts incurred by politically-motivated attacks.”
And who exactly is behind SarahPAC? On their site we find this:
Gov. Palin is the honorary chair of SarahPac, and its supporters are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and those unaffiliated with any political party.
We. We ask you to wait and donate to the official defense fund.
And lo and behold, the official defense fund arrived – The Alaska Fund Trust. And who was the trustee? Kristan Cole – Palin’s Wasilla High School buddy, long-time friend, appointed by Palin as Chair of the Board of Agriculture, appointed to the board of the Royalty Oil and Gas Commission, a member of the Creamery Board, a private company owned by the state of Alaska. Remember her? She’s the one who never talked to the governor about anything to do with the Alaska Fund Trust until yesterday. Hm.
Cole states that she “did not seek out this position,” but was “willing to step up to the plate and served when asked.”
Asked by whom? And with whose knowledge?