If you had to pick out a coherent explanation given by Sarah Palin for her decision to quit as Alaska governor, you’d probably have to settle on the notion that she felt her agenda was being paralyzed by frivolous ethics complaints, and that she only foresaw additional ones. So she stepped down so as not to continue to drag Alaskans through the process.
“Palin Says Ethics Complaints Were Paralyzing” reported the Anchorage Daily News after the governor’s round of beachside interviews Monday. And Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell, who’ll soon replace Palin as governor, had given that line over the weekend, saying on Fox News that Palin had talked to him about the toll the complaints had taken.
Obviously, the ethics complaint excuse doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons. Still, it’s worth taking a close look at the list of 18 complaints filed against Palin during her tenure as governor, as compiled by the ADN.
The roundup offers a useful resource for anyone who was having trouble keeping the various Pain scandals and mini-scandals straight. But it also makes clear that, for all Palin’s concern about dragging Alaskans through a traumatic process, only three of the complaints were still pending.
What are they? Here’s the paper’s description:
Jan. 26: Two complaints filed by McLeod alleged two of Palin’s top aides misused their official positions for Palin’s personal and political gain. The complaints said then-press secretary Bill McAllister and Kris Perry — director of the governor’s Anchorage office — worked on state time to benefit Palin’s interests during and after her vice presidential quest.
April 27: Contends Palin is misusing the governor’s office for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts through the Alaska Fund Trust. The fund was recently established by supporters to help Palin pay off more than $500,000 in legal debts stemming from other ethics complaints, including troopergate. Complaint filed by Eagle River resident, Kim Chatman.
Aside from those, everything’s been dealt with, in most cases by the state personnel board, which handles such matters. (Since Palin, as governor, has the power to fire the personnel board’s members, the independence of its judgments is hardly beyond reproach — but that’s a whole other story.) And most of the more frivolous complaints seem to have been dismissed pretty promptly. As for the three that are pending, for a woman who weathered Trooper-Gate, it’s hard to see how any of these could tip her over the edge.
Of course, Palin seems to be claiming that, because her enemies are so unscrupulous, there would no doubt have been more complaints soon. And maybe there would have been. But it seems likely that any future frivolous charges would have been dealt with as quickly as those in the past.
The notion that this barrage of complaints was preventing her from doing her job just doesn’t seem to hold up.