Two more complaints against Palin dismissed

Gov. Sarah Palin has been on a “good news” roll lately, and on Tuesday, the trend continued. First, there was breaking news that she had negotiated and signed a book deal. Just hours later, the office of Alaska’s chief executive announced that yet two more ethics complaints filed against the governor have been dismissed. Gov. Palin’s office was quick to point out that the latest two actions are just part of the mounting evidence that accusations of wrongdoing by the governor lack merit and have been motivated by politics or personal animosity.

The complaints, one by Zane Henning of Wasilla, filed on November 13, and one by Anthony Martin of Talkeetna, filed on December 2, were dismissed by Michael Geraghty, an investigator for the State Personnel Board. Geraghty concluded “that the conduct asserted, if true, would not constitute violation of the ethics act.”

Out of 14 ethics complaints filed against the governor or her staff, eleven have now been resolved without any finding that the law was broken. Just three complaints are still pending:

“These are the 10th and 11th actions taken on behalf of the Personnel Board that favorably resolve complaints against the governor or her staff, and to date there has not been any violation of the law substantiated,” said Thomas Van Flein, the governor’s attorney. “There are a few more complaints pending, and then we hope this abuse of the Executive Ethics Act will cease.”

Henning’s allegation was that Gov. Palin used her official position and office for partisan political purposes by allowing reporters to interview her on Nov. 7, 2008, and again Nov. 10, and answering questions about the then-recent vice presidential campaign. After what he said was an “exhaustive review” of the relevant news reports, Geraghty concluded:

“There was no indication that Governor Palin presented her official position as governor of the State of Alaska for an improper personal or financial purpose.”

Martin had alleged that Gov. Palin and aide Kris Perry violated the ethics act during a trip to Georgia at the request of Sen.Saxby Chambliss for the governor to campaign for him. Geraghty’s conclusion:

“The (ethics) act does not prohibit a public official from engaging in political pursuits independent of their position as a public officer, and the campaign efforts undertaken by Governor Palin are not prohibited by the act. To constitute a violation of the ethics act, the facts alleged would have to support a finding that Governor Palin coerced Perry to benefit her own personal and/or financial interests. The Martin complaint does not allege facts suggesting coercive conduct by Governor Palin.”

The governor’s communications director Bill McAllister said:

“Not one of the complaints actually reached the personnel board for its formal adjudication. Rather, the complaints have fallen short based on just a simple review of the facts and the law.”

McAllister also countered charges by critics of Gov. Palin alleging that the personnel board process is flawed because the members are appointed by the governor:

“This is an illogical argument: Why file a complaint with a board that you think is biased in favor of the person you’re targeting? But the fact of the matter is that all three members of the personnel board originally were appointed by the previous governor, and they could not be removed by Governor Palin except for actual wrongdoing. The governor’s opponents are just frustrated because they are batting .000 in their attempts to show a violation of the ethics act.”

– JP