Thursday, May 28, 2009

As the Palin Administration Continues to Hide and Obfuscate Important Information from the Public, More Citizens are Attacked for Their Courage

I. The labyrinth through the dark corridors of what is or isn't ethical conduct, what is or isn't freely available public information and what is or isn't a "dismissed" ethics complaint is getting to be well-worn here in Alaska.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is no stranger to filing ethics complaints. She filed ethics complaints against co-workers when she worked in the Frank Murkowski administration. Before she was governor, she filed piles of complaints against Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten. Since she has been governor, she has filed at least one ethics complaint against herself.

Palin claims that the ethics complaint filed by Frank Gwartney, protesting thousands of dollars the Palins collected in state-provided travel benefits, was dismissed in her favor. She states that she returned almost $10,000.00 in illegally taken travel funds, and is paying her own legal expenses, and the State of Alaska's expenses, in that matter "voluntarily."

The governor is also claiming she has accrued over a half a million dollars in legal expenses because of "meritless ethics complaints," but has provided no proof whatsoever that this is actually the case. And as for a breakdown on which cases have been billed, and for how much, I doubt that information qualifies in her mind as being part of her "open and transparent" universe.

Most interested observers suspect that almost all of Palin's legal expenses so far are related to her own ethics complaint, and to negotiating a way out of serious trouble regarding her illegal billings for children's travel, as a result of Gwartny's efforts. The amount of money she took in the travel case, after all, far exceeded the amount of money her former mentor Vic Kohring, went to jail for having taken. Today, AK Muckraker also covered the reality that most feel the preponderance, if not almost all, of Palin's legal bills stem from these two cases. AKM observed this morning at The Mudflats:

This isn’t taking paper clips and sticky pads out of the supply cabinet. This is $10,000 worth of illegal travel expenses. The governor’s office framed it as “a mistake” that they “corrected.” Oops!

II.
The term people are using for these citizen filings is "ethics complaint." People need to realize that what filers like Frank Gwartney, Andree McLeod, Linda Kellen and others are doing, is requesting clarification of interpretations of statutes that have very little or no case law or enforcement history behind them, at least as far as knowledge of their history being in the public domain goes. I'm not sure that "ethics complaint" is the most accurate term for what some of these actions really are or have been. By characterizing them that way, these requests, which will be used by future governors or executive branch employees as guidelines, are being personalized in a way they will not be, in the long run.

In regard to obtaining e-mails and other kinds of correspondence from the executive branch, and the outrageous costs the government is assigning to information retrieval, some states' "sunshine laws" make it far easier for citizens to obtain this kind of information than does ours.

The thrust of the governor's office, the members of the ethics commission, of right-wing AM radio, and the Anchorage Daily News editors, has been that these clarification requests are unnecessary, burdensome, and that their continuance may reflect a need for filers to bear the burden of expenses for requests that do not result in a ruling against the person about whom the clarification action is being requested.

For this to happen, in a state whose recent reputation is as allowing our politicians' a virtual free rein from adequate public oversight, is both sad and tawdry.

16 comments:

onejrkitty said...

We are not going to prevail against this stacked Personnel Board, nor will the AG provide non-partisan fairness.

Our legislators showed us with Troopergate that they are too cowardly to pursue Palin even when their investigation found her guilty.

SO, WHAT ARE THE REALISTIC ALTERNATIVES NOW?

Can Ray Metcalf's petition really induce FBI, DOJ to come in and clean house. I certainly would like to know how to get hold of Metcalf so I can sign the petition.

However, anybody think the FBI and/or DOJ will really be willing and/or able to clean house for us?

Just how far is Palin going to be allowed to go before she steps into criminal action obvious enough that she can be arrested or committed?

Looks like she is going to have to be caught involved in some kind of criminal activity before anyone in authority has the balls to come in and take care of business here.

Speaking of criminal endeavors, I wonder how the investigation into the Wasilla church fire is going.

Anonymous said...

"...and that their continuance may reflect a need for filers to bear the burden of expenses for requests that do not result in a ruling against the person about whom the clarification action is being requested."

Unfortunately, the right, being short sighted when emotionally charged fail to realize that this would apply to them as well.

Just how willing will right wingers be to file ethics complaints ( clarification requests ) against democrats when the tables finally turn? They fail to realize how upsetting they will be when asked to fork over money upfront, or risk having to pay, if someone finds THEIR complaint/request "frivilious."

So afraid things are going to have to get a lot worse before things start getting better. Palin is like a boil, full of pus, and ready to explode but no one wants to deal with her.

Anonymous said...

After she showed up in a few villages with a perverted preacher and a batch of cookies, what the hell do you expect? Professionalism from the executive staff and Palin herself? LOL

Anonymous said...

Don't Cry Wolf

Don't If you do not like Sarah - Fine, don't vote for her, bitch in up on the blogs, write to the newspaper, call DOJ or you legislator.

But wasting 3/4 of a million dollars on frivolous complaints is an abuse of the process.

This waste of State resources could lead to a tightening of regulations - Is that what we really want?

mean spirited people who can't accept losing keep wasting everyones time and money they will be thought of like the boy who cried wolf

Anonymous said...

When will someone find her original complaint against Randy Reudrich and just change names and submit it?

KB said...

Anonymous: The cost of good, ethical government ain't cheap!

zoe said...

Thank you for your informmed comment and intelligence.

zoe said...

Dear Anonymous at 3:52. This could be put to rest with a bill from her attorney.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

How does the "ASS,oops ADN EAR" come across a email from the GINO's office about Andree?
How does GINO's lawyer go on Smurkes show and talk about complaints being dismissed as they are being dismissed? Who is paying him to be on Smurkes show? Or is it pro-bono. What does he have to do with SOA "ethics complaints"?
How does the Governor get away with posting a slanderous/harassing post on the SOA website, Using Andree's name and alleging she is filing b/c she wanted a state job and didn't get it?
There is so much wrong with this whole out of control corrupted mess!Yes call the FBI, CREW and DOJ!
It is useless to expect the personnel board to do anything but nothing when it comes to GINO. Instead of censuring for her unethical behavior, they cry about people making complaints!
Alaska, you have a SERIOUS problem here! People need to come together and MAKE them DO something to STOP HER!!!

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Phil, forgot to say...Thanks for using my fave pic of GINO there! :)

sauerkraut said...

anon at 3:52 - does your complaint about frivolous filings include the ethics complaint Palin filed against herself? What a strange move that was... well, was strange unless you take the time to consider that it put an already settled matter before a board she appointed. Can you say "conflict of interest"? Sure you can. ...

As for the travel costs which she "voluntarily" repaid... she only did that to avoid having that complaint substantiated. She was warned of the outcome and decided (as she did with the Troopergate complaint she filed against herself) to do an end-around the system by paying up before a ruling was issued. That type of behavior by a sitting governor points towards the possibility of corruption. But that possibility probably does not bother you, eh?

Anonymous said...

It is really discouraging that the gov of AK is so ethically challenged. I don't remember this sort of mess with TOny Knowles or Stever Cowper or Wally Hickel or Bill Sheffield (who was really an icky little rat as far as I could tell) or any other governor in my nearly 40 years in the state. Frank came close, but he, at least, could govern sensibly, knew protocol, policy, etc.

Some days I feel like it's all just pi$$ing in the wind, and yet, if you give up then the bad guys win. I figure that's what they want, to make life so difficult for people who question her royal heinous to give up and go away so that she can wreak havoc w/out interference. And we can't let that happen.

It's sad to think that it's become a countdown of sorts -- just over one more year of the thrilla from wasilla, then Alaska can start to rebuild & regroup. The personnel board is utterly ethically bankrupt & in her pocket. This has to go to the legislature for change in the means thru which ethics complaints/challenges/questions are addressed.

We must not let the bad guys win -- keep on fighting the good fight and supporting those who speak out.

SMR

clark said...

i think the state is going to flip democratic but it's going to take longer. the republicans are pretty entrenched. they are really just as ridiculous as the national repubs at this point -- but the main problem is widespread apathy and disinterest.
it fascinates me that a few outposts [kodiak and juneau in particular] seem to be ahead of anchorage in progressive ideas gaining traction.
it would have been hard to predict [well, hard for me anyway] that '08 would be such a tumultuous political year in alaska. in many ways the place will never be the same again. insofar as it eventually results in flattening the pyramid and bringing back 'antiquated' concepts like stewardship, conservation, consumer protection, public trust, etc. it will have been worth the strife and stress.

KaJo said...

Progressives should ramp up their activism this year and throughout 2010, because -- even if Palin doesn't run again, and some OTHER "social (evangelical) conservative" takes her place as Governor -- chances are that the corruption in the branches of government that are peopled by Palin appointees will just go on for another 4 years.

Clean house at the top, and Alaskan progressives MIGHT get some satisfaction out of a series of intensive investigations and perhaps indictments of these same people.

And maybe then the ethics complaints against Palin might get serious, too, with consequences that might involve lock-up, fines, etc.

As a non-Alaskan, all I can do is watch -- but I remain highly interested. I do NOT want this woman loose in politics anywhere, but especially not down here in the lower 48!

Anonymous said...

Great photo, it really captures the "we'll do it my way or I will start screaming like the spoiled, self-centered little baby I am".

My sympathies to Alaska, for allowing themselves to be tricked into voting this vain, dishonest person into office.

I'm sure your next Governor will make some mistakes, but hopefully, they will be a grown-up, who understands what ethical behavior consists of, and takes some responsibility for their actions.

Julie said...

As the Palin Administration Continues to Hide and Obfuscate Important Information from the Public, More Citizens are Attacked for Their Courage...'

___________________
Julie
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