Monday's "Our View" editorial seeks to pre-judge some of the known ethics complaints against our governor. Rather than attempt to evaluate some of the better operative ones on their merits, or present some new facts, the editorial states:
State ethics law is not a megaphone for crying foul every time the governor or any other elected official does something someone doesn't like.
The ADN editor is correct. The state ethics laws are meant to help set standards for our elected officials. The governor has done a few things I like, and hundreds of things that I don't like. I haven't filed any ethics complaints against her, though. I don't foresee filing any either.
What some have noted about Palin and the large number of complaints filed is that the complainants, with the exception of the Governor herself, when viewed as a group, seem to be onto a pattern of abuse of the system by the Governor and her husband, of the resources available to the governor and her family. She appears to have taken advantage of state resources, time after time, and used them for personal gain in a way unlike any of her predecessors.
Many of us, upon learning that Palin had set up the Alaska Fund Trust, looked at her move rather cynically. After all:
1) She got her "Maverick" chops by not only filing an ethics complaint, but by then making her act public knowledge.
2) She campaigned for Governor in 2006 as a person who would reform ethics in Alaska.
3) When she became governor, she had Wev Shea and Ethan Berkowitz work up a white paper that looked into legislative branch ethics.
4) When she became a national ticket candidate, she bragged about how she had swept away the good old boys whose ethical conduct had gamed the system.
5) When she became a national ticket candidate, she attempted to derail or defang a legislative council investigation already underway, with her executive ethics complaint against herself.
The ADN editorial fails to note that the people who look into these complaints are Palin appointees. It fails to note that all of the governor's problems were entirely self-inflicted. It fails to make a fair distinction between our rights as citizens, and our duties. Frankly, with the ADN getting more secrecy-friendly every day, we need more from citizen activists, not less.
The ADN's editorial concludes with:
If you file a complaint against a legislator and then blab to the media about it, your complaint is automatically dismissed. That protection doesn't apply to ethics complaints involving the executive branch. It should.
So, when it appears to many citizen activists that we need tighter executive ethics codes, all the ADN can suggest is that we loosen them.
Independent commentator Paul Jenkins, in one of his rare post-Voice of the Times appearances at the ADN, wrote last week that:
It turns out that the embattled and lovely Sarah P. -- her nascent national political career dangling over a cliff -- finds herself increasingly under attack, accused of breaking state ethics law more than a dozen times. (Not counting the one she filed against herself during Troopergate to get the Personnel Board, which she appoints, to handle the case.)
Chief of staff Nizich says the pesky complaints are orchestrated by "opponents," offering entrepreneurs yet another T-shirt possibility to go along with "Haters" and "Lying Blogger." Palin has been forced to set up a legal defense fund, the Alaska Fund Trust, to help defray her rising and significant legal costs (and, dang it, that fund itself now is the subject of an ethics complaint despite its high-falootin' name).
In the face of all that, what does she do? Does Palin loose ankle-biter Meghan Stapleton at SarahPac to joust with "opponents" while she retains her dignity as governor and potential president?
Not a chance.
Somebody decides to beef about the SarahPac ethics complaint on an official state Web site. That is your Web site and mine. It belongs to all Alaskans. We pay for it. It is more than a little disturbing that her office, apparently swept up in some kind of vengeful tizzy, would bring to bear state resources to castigate, harangue, insult and accuse individual citizens who make legal complaints.
I'm no lawyer, but state law seems pretty clear: "A public officer may not ... use state time, property, equipment, or other facilities to benefit personal or financial interests. ..." Without much doubt, state time, property, equipment and other facilities were used to toss that hissy.
Clearly, with Paul Jenkins speaking in favor of the rights and duties of public activists and muckrakers, and the ADN suggesting those citizens go away, we have entered the next stage of the ADN's editorially induced death spiral.