April stated that many employees in the executive branch work on other jobs. For instance, one may be a bartender, another have a part-time business doing taxes or bookkeeping. If they have such outside employment, in addition to their full time state job, they can appeal to the ethics board, in order to get a review of whether or not their outside employment constitutes a conflict of interest with the work they perform for the executive branch.
From April's description, such requests are routine. She described her job as doing "administrative compliance-type stuff to ensure that employees who work for the state, who do have secondary jobs, do complete the appropriate paperwork to ensure that the employment is either approved or denied."
When Fagan questioned April about whether or not these waiver requests were different from ones like Pain's attorney has submitted regarding the Palin book deal, April responded by pointing out that, "No - this is the EXECUTIVE branch."
Essentially, Palin has the same right - it appears to me - to file for such a waiver as does any other executive branch employee.
And any employee of the executive branch may privately, through the ethics board procedure, object to not only one's own waiver rejection, but, I would assume, re-reading the ordinance, object to somebody else having obtained a waiver. Or a "clarification" on what a rule means can be requested by an executive branch employee, before an employee decides to engage in one activity or another that may or may not be covered by the ordinance.
And citizens, activist or curious ones, have a right to do the same. Only, the way the executive ethics act is written, we can announce our action to the public.
The latter aspect of this was thoroughly covered by AK Muckraker at The Mudflats, on May 4th, by Progressive Alaska that same day, and by other Alaska bloggers.
AK Muckraker noted then that:
The citizen who files the ethics complaint puts together their paperwork, and cites the specific part(s) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act that they believe have been violated. Then that person brings their complaint to the Department of Law.
The Department of Law makes sure that all the basics are covered, then they stamp it, and take it in. Then the complaint goes to the Personnel Board. The Personnel Board then hires an investigator to investigate. They ask all kinds of questions, make phone calls, do research, and gather whatever new information that they need to make a determination about whether things should proceed to the next level. That investigator will decide if the case does or does not have merit. That investigator will decide whether the investigation goes forward or not. If the complaint is completely “bogus,” as the governor’s office is fond of saying, then the investigator can dismiss it outright. If the complaint is the result of someone abusing their rights, or is without merit, it gets tossed out.
And Progressive Alaska noted that citizens were disturbed enough about Palin to file requests, in part, because:
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.
Nothing like layers of hypocrisy to bring citizens out of the woodwork, eh?
Of all places, the blog Conservatives4Palin had a comment by DrChill, to an article Wednesday about the ethics of Palin's book deal. The commenter observed the following about Palin's attorney's waiver request, contrasting it to the requests for clarification by activists who aren't employees:
When governor Palin asked the dept of law if her book deal presented an ethical problem, they spent some careful time to consider the question.
The answer was 'no, its okay.'
The system works.
When citizens ask if Palins behavior presents an ethical problem and the answer is 'no, its okay', the system works.
I think the system is working no matter who is questioning the governor's ethics.
I should point out that these so called complaints are just the name of what citizens file to the ethics board.
When state employees do it its called a disclosure, or request for an an advisory opinion.
It sounds much better than complaint.
Essentially they do the same thing. They answer ethics questions.
In most cases if there is a problem found, the board will reply 'Stop doing that.'
Its not a criminal complaint, nor a law suit.
And since almost all have gone her way, you'd think the governor would be thanking people for taking her up on her challenge to hold her accountable.
Other than the hype and hysteria and the overblown layer's charges, the process is working fine.
As I noted in the comments to my post about PA's ongoing poll regarding Palin's ability under state law to write the book while working as governor, I think she should be free to write it.