Following is a press release pertaining to an ethics violation filed by Sondra Tompkins alleging that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's trip to Indiana violated state ethics codes. Commentary follows
The Office of the Governor today expressed outrage that yet another baseless ethics complaint has been filed as part of an alarming new development in Alaska politics (Ethics, 2009, ¶1).
“In the past several months, we have seen an orchestrated effort by the governor’s opponents to make differences of opinion and ideology almost criminal,” said Mike Nizich, the governor’s chief of staff. “Governor Palin has spent a considerable amount of time and money fighting ethics complaints – and no charge has been substantiated. I hope that the publicity-seekers will face a backlash from Alaskans who have a sense of fair play and proportion. I served six previous governors, and I’ve never seen anything like the attacks against Governor Palin” (Ethics, 2009, ¶2).
The latest ethics complaint against the governor alleges that she entered into a “contract” outside of her official duties in regard to a political action committee and that her recent trip to Indiana also conflicted with those duties (Ethics, 2009, ¶3).
“These allegations are categorically false and ridiculous, and are an abuse of the Executive Ethics Act,” Nizich said (Ethics, 2009, ¶4).
“We are blessed to live in a democracy in which everyone has the right to free speech, to petition their lawmakers, to vote, to run for office and, yes, to allege misconduct by public officials,” said Bill McAllister, the governor’s communications director. “But obviously the purpose of this complaint and the previous ones is to distract the administration and the public, and to paralyze the Department of Law and the executive branch (Ethics, 2009, ¶5).
“There’s a core hypocrisy in nearly all of the ethics complaints brought against the governor, including this one. The ethics act clearly states that complaints, when filed, are to be confidential. Ms. Tompkins publicized her filing on several blogs, breaking the letter and the spirit of the law. While there are no penalties in the statute for this illegal behavior, Alaskans of all political persuasions should be appalled that the people who are alleging unethical behavior by the governor are repeatedly doing so unethically” (Ethics, 2009, ¶6)
The relevant section of the ethics act follows: (Ethics, 2009, ¶7)
“Sec. 39.52.340. Confidentiality (Ethics, 2009, ¶8).
(a) Except as provided in AS 39.52.335, before the initiation of formal proceedings under AS 39.52.350, the complaint and all other documents and information regarding an investigation conducted under this chapter or obtained by the attorney general during the investigation are confidential and not subject to inspection by the public. In the case of a complaint concerning the governor, lieutenant governor, or attorney general, all meetings of the personnel board concerning the complaint and investigation before the determination of probable cause are closed to the public. … The attorney general and all persons contacted during the course of an investigation shall maintain confidentiality regarding the existence of the investigation” (Ethics, 2009, ¶9)
Under the Legislative Ethics Act, publicizing an ethics complaint against a lawmaker would result in the automatic dismissal of that complaint. The Executive Ethics Act does not contain that provision (Ethics, 2009, ¶10)
While the latest complaint concerns 36 hours that the governor spent out of state this month, her opponents have spent months filing ethics complaints and records requests in a volume that constitutes a pattern of harassment and that has negatively impacted the Department of Law, McAllister said (Ethics, 2009, ¶11).
He noted that the governor left Alaska only twice during the recently completed legislative session -- for a total of just four days, including travel time -- and that during both trips she conducted state government business (Ethics, 2009, ¶12).
“Governor Palin hasn’t done anything that any other governor in the nation hasn’t done,” McAllister said. “I hope Alaskans can see through this stunt” (Ethics, 2009, ¶13)
The patent absurdity of this ethics complaint speaks for itself, so that point does not require belaboring. Every other governor from the remaining states travels this nation doing precisely what Governor Palin did in Indiana. Some even travel to foreign countries for this purpose. Ditto for mayors of large cities. Enough said.
Also interesting to note: every single ethics complaint against Governor Palin was filed after August 29, 2008 -- the day she was announced as a VP candidate.
What is particularly galling is that Tompkins is the mother of a special needs child and has chosen to spit in the face of and lash out at her only friend and advocate in elected office by this latest filing. Governor Palin attended two events in Indiana. One was for special needs children. Some of the bills she introduced that were not passed, because the legislators were too busy with their spite campaign involved special needs children. No elected official at the federal, state, or city levels anywhere in this country has been a better friend to special needs children than Governor Sarah Palin.
These filings absolutely form a pattern of harassment -- harassment that Governor Palin has the right to and should sue for -- every last one of these filings should be counter-sued. Until these people experience real consequences beyond the drive to the AK Department of Law office to do these filings, this will never stop. The ethics code was not designed to keep governors chained to their desks. Further, in the discovery phase of a lawsuit, as the filers' motives become clear, their connections would begin to unravel -- that's about the point at which these charges would likely be withdrawn.
These filings are part of a coordinated effort to smear Governor Palin. There was much chatter on left-wing and hate blogs against the Governor prior to this filing that it was going to be done. Those who partook in these discussions reveled and took delight in what they were about to do.
This press release which appeared prior to the filing was in the blog, "I eat gravel" operated by Ryan Marquis, who is a Kenai Borough Employees Association Union alternate negotiator. He also ran for the Kenai district school board garnering no votes. On his MySpace page, he lists Obama and Che Guevara as his heroes, among others.
These filings constitute a pattern of abusing an ethics code to achieve a desired political end -- in this case the destruction of her political career.
The best defense is a good offense and Governor Palin needs to go on the offensive -- post haste. She cannot continue to permit other people to dictate and determine her image. The game in which people file frivolous complaints that she has to defend at her own expense, but in which the filers experience no consequences needs to end. It needs to end TODAY. If she has to pay to defend herself, they should have to pay to prove it's not harassment and not driven by ulterior motives. It's that easy.
Governor Palin today is standing at a crossroads and she has two choices. If she has aspirations for higher office -- or even running for re-election, she needs to fight this and start wresting control of her image. This is a responsibility that she has to herself -- the efforts of those of us who love and support her and who have established blogs for the purpose of expressing such -- will only go so far. People are far more likely to listen to Governor Palin fighting for herself, than Ron Devito (or any of the other excellent Sarah Palin support blogs out there) fighting for her.
If Governor Palin is to be a credible candidate for POTUS, and to survive and thrive as her state's governor, she must demonstrate that she can shut this type of thing down. Governor Palin should see herself as being in her dojo (Japanese for "training place") in the midst of a shugyo (Japanese for "severe training") session. Issuing press releases against these filings is necessary, but grossly insufficient. Her next issuance needs to be a summons to every filer of these complaints to meet her in court to answer harassment changes.
It's time for Governor Palin to start treating these Chicago thugs like the sub-human trash that they are. Being "nice" and turning the other cheek is not going to get her in the White House and it is certainly not helping her in the state house. This is no different than dealing with a schoolyard bully. Running and telling the teacher is the "right thing" and the "ethical thing" to do, but it never solves the problem. Jabs, a right cross and a left hook are what ultimately shut that problem down in the schoolyard. Governor Palin needs to start her legal offensive -- NOW!
I for one will be donating to her legal defense fund and advertising it on this blog when it's announced. But, I would be more delighted if it were used as a legal offense fund. I and thousands of other supporters would be more than happy to contribute towards counter-suits, and private investigators to uncover the underlying motives behind these ethics filings and the other unknown parties involved.
Latest ethics complaint deemed outrageous. (2009, April 22). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved April 23, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1787