It’s not quite the other shoe everyone was waiting to drop, but Alaska Governor (for the next four days) Sarah Palin is facing some ethics questions about the Alaska Fund Trust, a fund she started to raise money to pay for legal fees to defend against ethics complaints.
An independent report commissioned by the state’s Personnel Board found that she may have violated a law that prohibits Alaskan elected officials from using their offices for “personal gain.” Palin, who has an annual salary of $125,000, has over the last eight months spent more than $500,000 of her own money to defend against the 20 complaints since it is state policy not to pay to defend politicians. Thus far 13 of the complaints have been dismissed without any finding of wrongdoing. Palin paid the state back $8,100 for travel taken by her family to resolve another complaint. Five of the complaints were filed after she announced her intention to resign three weeks ago.
Ethics complaints filed against legislators in Alaska are automatically dismissed if they are made public to prevent unfairly tarnishing officials ahead of elections. The only time the public hears about legislative ethics complaints is when the investigation has been completed and the results are announced. Unfortunately for Palin, the executive office does not enjoy the same anonymous process – a loophole many legislators say will likely be fixed when Palin leaves office.
Palin cited the money spent by the state – more than $2 million has been spent by various agencies investigating the complaints – as her principal reason for resigning.