I just came from contributing to Sarah Palin’s Legal Defense Fund at http://www.thealaskafundtrust.com after doing a little investigation and I’ll make this a mini-FAQ to set forth and answer some of the many posts and comments I have seen here.
First, to answer the question if there is a legal defense fund for Palin the answer is yes, and the official one appears to be at http://www.thealaskafundtrust.com organized on April 22 of this year.
Sarah’s official (SarahPAC), semi-official, and fan sites all seem to link to this site.
By googling ‘Palin Legal Defense Fund’ I discovered not only the fund web site itself but also news reports stating that the fund has already raised over $100,000 in one week.
Note that anybody can set up a trust anywhere and declare that the purpose of the trust is to pay Palin’s (or anybody else’s) legal fees. Or for any other purpose. But the purpose we are discussing is a legal de3fense fund for Palin and an official one does exist. The Alaska Fund Trust was organized and filed as a legal entity in the state of Alaska, curiously enough. Sarah Palin (not ‘the Governor of Alaska’) is explicitly named as a ‘Covered Individual’ who can benefit from the trust. Other ‘Covered Individuals’ may benefit from the trust, too, at the trustee’s discretion. No others are named in the original document however.
The sole trustee and settlor in the trust document is declared to be Kristan Cole who is a real estate broker in Wasilla. She appears to be a business and community leader in the area if you google her name. She appears to have done all the legal organization of the trust on her own (besides the attys and witnesses, notaries, etc. needed to make the trust instrument fully legal).
As I note above, anybody can set up a trust for any legal purpose and even if Palin wanted to, she could not prevent friends or even strangers from setting up a trust to raise funds for her benefit. It is currently, ‘somewhat’ of a free country, although we see that rapidly diminishing!
Examining the trust document available on the web site, I did not delve too deeply into it, but simply satisfied myself that Palin herself is not one of the trustees. She is not. There is only one trustee and that is Cole.
I’d also note at this point that unless Palin was foresighted enough to include such a provision in her agreement to retain legal the services that the State of Alaska cannot provide for her, her counsel probably has the option to accept payments on her behalf against her legal bills at their own option. I know I would be pleased to do so if I were representing her. They would then render her a credit on her next bill and her legal fee balance owing would be reduced accordingly. I would not be at all surprised if this turns out to be the eventual case for most of the firms representing her (there may be more than one, as there are so many complaints).
One very nice feature of the AFT web site is that the visitor is given the opportunity to compare the Alaska Fund Trust with the trusts creating the legal defense funds of Kerry, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Stevens, DeLay and Gephardt. According to the web site’s claim, no other legal defense fund compared has more restrictions on who can contribute, or how much, than AFT does, and the presented comparison does indeed seem to be accurate.
I highly recommend reading the list of restrictions on contributing to AFT. It is obviously intended to be a grassroots effort and is so structured.
The contribution limit is $150.00 and contributions are accepted ONLY from individuals, not companies, PACs, unions or other entities.
Why should we expect her to have to rely on a legal defense fund?
Because if she establishes a record of paying the lion’s share of the legal fees herself, then the liberal exploding heads will shout with glee and file even more trivial ethics complaints and eventually bankrupt her. Everybody else uses legal defense funds, and so should she.
Why isn’t the State of Alaska paying her legal bills?
Because that would produce even more ethics complaints against her. No sense in inviting more trouble. Politicians must defend themselves from most ethics complaints, and you can bet that the complaints actually filed are designed to be ones that the State of Alaska is legally prevented from defending her from.
After all, if you were Soros or one of his clever minions, would you not prefer to file ethics complaints where Alaska law says defendants cannot be defended with public funds? If you were the attorney filing such a complaint would you expect to get such work again if you chose a complaint that could be defended with public funds? Would you be considered worthy of your fee if you did not advise your liberal exploding head client that the proposed complaint could be defended with public monies before the complaint was actually filed?
C’mon folks, think! The other guys obviously are. I think those atty types call this due diligence.
Why does she need outside counsel?
Because defending against ethics charges is a process of law, and you need your own attorneys to investigate the facts, gather testimony, investigate the opposition, discover documents that relate to the defense, and refute documents that incline towards the opposition. You can’t use phone bank volunteers to do this, you must have attorneys to file answers in court for you.
As stated above, trying to get the State of Alaska to defend her would result in even more ethics complaints and would be a good example of a self-licking ice cream cone.
In a final google search to determine if there were any counterfeit sites claiming falsely to be the official Palin defense fund site, it did not discover any apparent imposters, but I did discover a report on the Huffington Post that an ethics complaint had been filed in Alaska against Gov. Sarah Palin that her lagal defense fund is in itself an ethics violation (it is not – if Clinton, Clinton, Rangel, Dodd, Kerry and all the others can have legal defense funds accepting $10,000 – $15,000 a pop from anyone including corporations, unions and so forth, then Sarah can have on accepting $150 from individuals only. Besides, Sarah could not have prevented organization of this trust even if she had wanted to) (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/27/palin-legal-fund-challeng_n_192044.html).
This complaint shows just how far the opposition will go to try to paralyze the Palin administration. I think she was wise to resign, whatever her later ambitions for service or privacy may be in the future.
Alaska can back to the enjoyable task of being Alaska now.
I think we would be very wise to contribute to her defense fund if we would like to see her in public life in the future.
(cross-posted from red state comments)