Sarah Palin’s Ethics Problems Keep Getting Bigger.

19 11 2008

Many Alaskans have been privately simmering over the ethics and antics of our now world famous Governor.  While she has been off skipping across the land, and seeing how many hours of air time she can manage, there have been busy people back on the Last Frontier, with forms, ballpoint pens, and moral outrage busy at work.

It’s time to start keeping track of ethics complaints against Sarah Palin.  First, obviously, is the one regarding Troopergate for which she has already been found to be in violation of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act for allowing the inappropriate pressuring of Walt Monegan to fire her ex-brother-in-law, whose case had already been reviewed and dealt with by a previous administration.

Regarding this ethics issue, we are now in an uneasy holding pattern, waiting to find out what the Legislature will do about this finding.  I say “uneasy” because several high-profile Democratic Legislators have started sounding sort of warm and fuzzy, and talking about “moving on”….(faint strains of Kumbayah are heard in the distance)…  Stay tuned for more information on that front.

So that’s one ethics violation.

Now, for the other ethics complaints.

#1 – Frank Gwartney

Frank Gwartney, a retired lineman here in Anchorage filed a complaint based on the following statute in the Executive Branch Ethics Act:


Sec. 39.52.120. Misuse of official position

(a) A public officer may not use, or attempt to use, an official position for personal gain, and may not intentionally secure or grant unwarranted benefits or treatment for any person.

(b) A public officer may not

(3) use state time, property, equipment, or other facilities to benefit personal or
financial interests;

Gov. Palin attempted to and in fact did use her official position for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits for her daughters by, among other things: charging the state for her children to travel with her to events that they were not invited to and to which their presence served no legitimate state purpose or business. Gov. Palin later amended travel expense reports to give the appearance that the presence of her daughters at these events constituted legitimate official and/or state business.

That’s right.  It’s probably known to you as “Travelgate”.  Read the nitty gritty on Progressive Alaska.

#2 – Zane Henning

Henning is a resident of Wasilla, who works on the North Slope oil fields to pay the bills, and in his free time, he’s one of those engaged citizens who is paying attention and taking action.  And he doesn’t like what he sees coming from the Governor.

As Sarah Palin settles back into her job as the state’s chief executive, a new ethics complaint filed Tuesday says she’s already improperly mixing her official duties and broader political ambitions.

The charge: That Palin broke state ethics rules by holding national television interviews about her run for vice president from the governor’s office.

The complaint comes as Palin’s personal life, her prospects as a future presidential candidate and everything she says and does continues to draw headlines.

Zane Henning, a North Slope worker from Wasilla, said he filed the complaint with the attorney general. He says Palin is promoting her future political career on state property, pointing in particular to the governor’s Nov. 10 interview with Fox News Channel host Greta Van Susteren.

“The governor is using her official position and office in an attempt to repair her damaged political image on the national scene,” Henning wrote.

The Palin camp, besieged by interview requests, said the governor was no longer a candidate at the time of interviews, but otherwise had little to say about the complaint.

“The consideration of complaints under the executive branch ethics act is a confidential process, by law,” wrote Palin spokesman Bill McAllister.

“The governor will respect that legal requirement for confidentiality, even if others do not.”

#3 will surely follow.

And you know how, in movies, when there’s something under water that’s about to rise to the surface and wreak havoc…there are those little bubbles that rise to the surface….and then they start to get bigger….

Well, there are bubblings.  There were little bubbles a couple weeks ago, and they’re getting bigger.  I’ll report as things develop, but suffice it to say that those bubbles are the byproduct of grass roots organization.  It’s a beautiful thing.

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Ted Stevens Concedes.

19 11 2008

They say it ain’t over til it’s over.

It’s over.

Ted Stevens conceded the Senate race to Mark Begich today.

Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected.

My family and I wish to thank the thousands of Alaskans who stood by us and who supported my re-election. It was a tough fight that would not have been possible without the help of so many Alaskans – people who I am honored to call my friends. I will always remember their thoughts, prayers, and encouragement.

I am proud of the campaign we ran and regret that the outcome was not what we had hoped for. I am deeply grateful to Alaskans for allowing me to serve them for 40 years in the U.S. Senate. It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with Alaskans of all political persuasions to make this state that we all love a better place.

I wish Mayor Begich and his family well. My staff and I stand willing to help him prepare for his new position.





Alaska’s Senate Race – The Morning After

19 11 2008

Alaska has a Blue Senator. Mark Begich has won the election.

So where do we stand, and what does this mean?

Mark Begich – It means that Mayor Senator Begich gets to pack his bags and head to Washington DC, with his wife and son, to start giving progressive Alaskans and centrists, and people who don’t want a convicted felon representing them in our nation’s capitol, a voice. If he’s wise, and smart, he will take the Ted Stevens debacle as a cautionary tale. If he plays his cards right, he could be there for a long long time, but the Republican party will have him in their sights, and be watching for every little slip-up.

If the Democrats in the Senate are wise and smart, they’ll be really nice to Senator Begich and give him a couple nice feathers in his cap to wear home to Alaska. They know the kind of bombastic, blow hards Alaska is capable of sending to the capitol, and they probably don’t want it to happen again. And they sure don’t want Sarah Palin gunning for an open senate seat in 6 years. Mark Begich will be like salve on a wound for many who have had to endure Ted Stevens for decades.

Who will fill Mayor Begich’s seat after he leaves? Anchorage Assembly Chair Matt Claman. Matt just took over the chairmanship of the Assembly when a surprise progressive majority took over the paralyzingly conservative Anchorage Assembly that had previously been populated by junior versions of the aforementioned bombastic, blow hards. When the Assembly shifted to the left, Claman was chosen. I know Matt Claman and he’s a good guy. He lacks the extroversion and charisma of Begich, but his principles are sound, and he’s a concensus builder, and a rational thinker. He’ll probably do a pretty good job. He’ll be there until April, when the mayoral elections happen. He may decide to run for the position officially at that time. There are several others who have thrown their hat in the ring too. And this may cause some interesting wrangling, since one of those candidates is Assembly Vice Chair Sheila Selkregg. Today’s Anchorage Daily News has an interesting article on these behind the scenes goings on.

Sarah Palin – Well, God sent a message to Sarah. She said if God opened a door, even a crack, she’d “plow through it”. But tonight, when Begich won a clear victory, and the four decade era of Ted Stevens ended, the door firmly shut tight. She will undoubtedly be looking for another door. The three that may open up next are:

  • The Don Young Door – Congressman Don Young will be up for re-election in 2010, but may be out before then. He’s already spend a whopping 1.2 million dollars on legal fees in anticipation of his own coming indictment. Alaskans have been waiting for that shoe to drop for a while now….and it’s coming. It’s just a question of when. Look for headlines coming soon to a paper near you, now that Alaska politics has wormed its way into the national consciousness. But even if Young survives this, his 19th term in Congress, I don’t think Sarah Palin is gunning for his job. I just don’t think Congress is her style.
  • The Lisa Murkowski Door – Now we’re talking. Sarah unseated Lisa’s father Frank Murkowski when she became governor in 2006. This would be the second Murkowski trophy head on her wall. Murkowski hasn’t done a bad job in most Republican’s minds, but she hasn’t knocked their socks off either. It’s not a sure thing by any means that she’d be able to hold her seat against Palin. And the Senate, as we have just witnessed, can be an effective stepping stone to the Presidency, which is what Palin is gunning for in the long run. That’s the door she thinks God will open for her – the big fat door to the Oval Office. She’s “wired for the mission” and would be ready to run in 2012, or 2016.
  • The Direct Door to the Presidency – If Palin can hold on to office for another term, she may be banking on her national celebrity, and name recognition, and her Christian conservative buddies in high places to take her from the governorship to Pennsylvania Avenue…or so she hopes. She’s up for re-election in 2010. And who knows…she may feel fully qualified by that point to throw her hat in the ring anyway.

And what about Ted Stevens, and his suddenly awkward and very visible namesake – The Ted Stevens International Airport. Before we break out the chisels and hammers, the Anchorage Assembly and the Public Facilities Advisory Commission, and who knows who else, will have to do some political soul searching, and have lots of meetings.

Stevens’ legal appeal process moves forward, and he’ll fight tooth and nail, like he always does. And amazingly, he is still eligible, despite his seven felony convictions, for his senate pension of $122,000 a year, courtesy of taxpayers. Although there is a recently-passed federal law that prohibits felons from collecting on these pensions, Stevens’ particular felonies were not on the list, and they were committed before the law went into effect. Maybe next time.