Palin’s “Travelgate” Swings Open – Let the Fallout Begin!

29 10 2008

You know at the DMV, or the deli, when you have to pull one of those little ticket things off the roll, so you know where you are in line? They need to install one of those at the Department of Law in Alaska.

There is so much we never knew about our Governor. Nothing like being under the national magnifying glass, accompanied by a mass influx of some of the best investigative journalists in the world, to properly vet a candidate.

It feels like we were just hanging out at home, minding our business, and all of a sudden several hundred FBI agents descended on our house with fine-toothed combs, and electronic devices, and fingerprint gathering tools. We find out we may have been the victim of a crime and we didn’t even know it! Go figure.

Well, those metaphorical FBI agents (aka journalists) did a really good job. They even looked under the bed, and in the back of the sock drawer. They looked in the freezer, and they found that secret cubbyhole under the floorboards. They may not have found everything, but they sure made us think about all those other places we might look, now that we know.

Now that all these little Sarah Palin scandals have been excavated by the national press, there they lie. Right there on our dining room table with little color-coded evidence tags. They just sit, waiting for someone to come along, pick one up, examine it and say, “Heeeey. I didn’t vote for this!”

We were all promised “open, honest and transparent” government from Sarah Palin, and we find, to our amazement that what we actually got was a big steaming pile of just the opposite. Time to start taking numbers.

The first one to pull his ticket off the roll is Frank Gwartney, a retired lineman who lives in here in Anchorage. Let’s call him “Frank the Retired Lineman”. It makes him sound like one of those people Palin says she’s accountable to. He is “tired of the hypocrisy that exists in Government,” and thinks, “people need to know the truth.” This reminds us of that famous pre-VP quote that defined Sarah Palin’s rise to Governorship, “Hold me accountable.” Apparently, Frank was listening.

The complaint against Governor Palin, alleges Misuse of Official Position: “Gov. Palin attempted to and in fact did use her official position for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits for her daughters…” All the allegations contained in the complaint are related to state reimbursed travel.

In Alaska, ethics complaints filed against the Governor are confidential. “We can neither confirm nor refute that a complaint has been filed against Governor Sarah Palin. Any complaint remains confidential unless the person being charged waives confidentiality or if the complaint progresses to the state of probable cause,” Assistant District Attorney, Dave Jones told CBS News.

Bristol, Piper and Willow, Palin’s daughters, accrued $32,629 in travel expenses while Palin’s husband Todd raked up $22,174 – all billed to the state for a total of $54,803.00.

“The Governor’s office has expended $54,803.00 in Alaska state dollars for family travel since December 2006,” according to the Governor’s Administrative Services Director, Linda Perez. “The documentation related to family travel has changed and you have to keep in mind that the governor and her family are very popular,” added Perez.

Sharon Leighow, Deputy Communications Director, said “Governor Palin followed state policy allowing governors to charge for their children’s travel and there’s also the expectation that the first family participate in community activities across the state.”

We all know the drill. Here’s what happens next. Attorney General Talis Colberg will refer the complaint to…..The Personnel Board. Those guys are busy these days! Still wrestling with the second incarnation of the Troopergate investigation, they now have another item on their expanding “To Do” list. Then the board decides if the conduct would violate the ethics ace if it were found to be true. If it would, then they go through the process of hiring an independent investigator. Much happens out of the spotlight, but after interviews, and evidence gathering, and when the board reaches a decision, they make recommendations to impose penalties, and/or disciplinary action. The process may take several weeks, or several months.

Governor Palin would be advised to get used to this. Grassroots discontent can be a formidable thing. You never know who will show up to pull the next ticket. Frank Gwartney? Who’s that guy?  The answer is:  The first guy in line.

Anyone worried that Alaska political junkies will have nothing to talk about after this election can rest easy.

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