July 22, 2009

Newsflash: Palin May Be Charged With Defending Herself Against Ethics Charges

Hatched by Dafydd

The assault on Sarah Palin passed absurdity long ago; it now makes a deep incursion into surreality. To wit, the newest charge from "independent investigator" Thomas Daniel:

An independent investigator has found evidence that Gov. Sarah Palin may have violated ethics laws by accepting private donations to pay her legal debts, in the latest legal distraction for the former vice presidential candidate as she prepares to leave office this week.

The report obtained by The Associated Press says Palin is securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts through the Alaska Fund Trust, set up by supporters.

And the substance of the charge?

An investigator for the state Personnel Board says in his July 14 report that there is probable cause to believe Palin used or attempted to use her official position for personal gain because she authorized the creation of the trust as the "official" legal defense fund....

The fund aims to help Palin pay off debts stemming from multiple ethics complaints against her, most of which have been dismissed. Palin says she owes more than $500,000 in legal fees, and she cited the mounting toll of the ethics probes as one of the reasons she is leaving office.

Given that the Palins are not independently wealthy -- not like, say, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) or Sen. JFK (D-MA, 100%) -- legal expenses upwards of half a million spondulicks could by themselves sink her political career by forcing her family into bankruptcy. An obvious strategy for political opponents of some public official, knowing he is not rolling in long green, is to inundate him with scores of non-meritorious ethics complaints, until he runs dry of enough money to pay lawyers. (It takes virtually no money to file the complaint; but it takes tens of thousands of dollars to defend oneself against it.)

Such tactics are the political equivalent of a distributed denial-of-service attack on a computer server.

In a state that does not pay for defending its government officials from complaints that are dismissed, such as Alaska, the only alternative is for the targeted official to create a legal defense fund. So what are Palin's enemies doing now? They're trying to prevent her from utilizing just such a fund:

The practical effect of the ruling on Palin will be more financial than anything else. The report recommends that Palin refuse to accept payment from the defense fund, and that the complaint be resolved without a formal hearing before the Alaska Personnel Board.

Subtle, Tom.

But what is supposed to be the problem? Of course she benefits from the fund -- that's what it's overtly for. But it's not an official act of the governor, it doesn't use any taxpayer funds, it's entirely voluntary, and contributions are limited to $150 per person -- so it doesn't even provide the opportunity for bribery. How is this unethical? Unless Mr. Daniel believes that all legal defense funds are inherently unethical... and that appears to be exactly his position:

In his report, attorney Thomas Daniel said his interpretation of the ethics act is consistent with common sense.

An ordinary citizen facing legal charges is not likely to be able to generate donations to a legal defense fund, he wrote. "In contrast, Governor Palin is able to generate donations because of the fact that she is a public official and a public figure. Were it not for the fact that she is governor and a national political figure, it is unlikely that many citizens would donate money to her legal defense fund."

Perhaps Daniel should consider that, were it not for the fact that she is governor and a national political figure, it is unlikely that she would need a bloody legal defense fund in the first place!

We are deep, deep into Dali-land and Magritte-ville now. Sarah Palin affects the Left like the full moon affects a werewolf; and despite the fact that she leaves office in four days, the lunatics are still in full bay... and will probably continue through the next decade, at least.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 22, 2009, at the time of 5:03 PM

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The following hissed in response by: scrapiron

Come 08/01/09 Mr Daniel yawns and Palin files a million dollar lawsuit against him. You can sue idiot left wing liberals, can't you? They may not pay off since most democrats are certifiable insane. President O'Dumbo's latest mumble fumble press show is a good indication that insanity runs all the way to the top.

The above hissed in response by: scrapiron [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 22, 2009 9:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: dasbow

So how do we start launching a flurry of bogus ethics charges at Thomas Daniel?

The above hissed in response by: dasbow [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2009 5:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

As part of the report, Mr. Daniel has said that the problem is a flaw in the Alaska law and should be rectified by the Alaska legislature. He also said that Governor Palin should submit expenses for reimbursement to the Alaska legislature. He said that the only reason that he had to write what he did is that he is restricted to the law as written and not a concept of fairness.

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2009 11:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Sabba Hill:

He said that the only reason that he had to write what he did is that he is restricted to the law as written and not a concept of fairness.

Regardless of any "more in sorrow than in anger" comments Daniel may have made, the fact remains that he argues that merely setting up a legal defense fund constitutes an ethical violation -- but only for someone who needs a legal defense fund. Worse, he insisted that was the "common sense" view.

He argued that this constituted a "benefit" for Gov. Palin; but that is ridiculous, because its purpose is entirely restorative. She cannot use the fund for personal purchases, nor for campaign expenses, political contributions, or even contributions to a favorite charity.

She cannot give the money away to anyone else, not even to another person subjected to non-meritorious ethics charges. She cannot even donate it to the state of Alaska, I suspect.

And on the other side, because contributions are limited to $150 per person, the fund cannot even be used as a vehicle for bribery -- unless you're talking about the absolute cheapest political crook in human history!

It can be used for one and only one purpose: paying the legal bills of Gov. Sarah Palin, who has demonstrably been flooded with meritless, politically based ethics charges and is half a million dollars in the hole because of it.

Exactly such legal defense funds have been set up in many other states; and I highly doubt that Alaska law uniquely bans such funds... if they did, then those who set up the fund for her would have written it in such a way to comply with the law.

No matter how much head-shaking Daniel does, he has interpreted the standards of "ethics" in such a ludicrous, nonsensical way that it bars the non-rich from defending themselves from a barrage of complaints, even those that are clearly tendentious in origin.

That is an extraordinary position to take; rather than being commonsensical, it flies in the face of common sense. It is a surreal Catch-22... and I flatly deny that Alaska law forbids a legal defense fund; I assert that Daniel has, for whatever reason, arrived at a totally wrong interpretation of both the law and ethical requirements.

Mind, this is his opinion; this has not been vetted by any court. No judge has ruled on this. This is simply Thomas Daniel expostulating on what he says the law and ethical considerations demand.

If you believe Daniel is correct -- that Gov. Palin, by setting up a legal defense fund for no reason other than to prevent her family's bankruptcy, trying to respond to false charges filed by political opponents, for the sole purpose of destroying her political career -- if you agree that by merely setting up a legal defense fund, she behaved unethically, even unlawfully, and should forgo any payments from this fund, even if that means she and her husband and her children are wiped out financially... if you support this utterly extraordinary contention, then could you please at least cite some legislation or caselaw to that effect?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I'd like to see at least a little evidence of legislation forbidding legal defense funds in Alaska, coupled with caselaw that makes clear that, in addition to not paying for the defense of public officials wrongly accused of ethics violations, the state of Alaska also insists that such wrongly accused persons personally bear the full financial brunt of such meritless accusations, without any outside help.

I frankly doubt the hell out of that.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 23, 2009 2:31 PM

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