Tag Archives: Alaska Attorney General

Alaska Attorney General Sullivan: Gov. Palin can Appoint an ‘Acting’ Lieutenant Governor

Alaska State Attorney General Dan Sullivan

Alaska State Attorney General Dan Sullivan

State Attorney General Dan Sullivan says Gov. Sarah Palin has the power to appoint Alaska’s new lieutenant governor by herself without confirmation by the Alaska Legislature.

Sullivan, in his first formal opinion since he took over June 16, weighed in on the issue created when Palin designated Lt. Gen. Craig Campbell, commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, as the new lieutenant governor when Sean Parnell replaces her as governor.

Campbell would step up to the state’s No. 2 spot instead of the previous designee, Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt, whom the Legislature has already confirmed.

Sullivan’s opinion contradicts that of legislative attorney Tam Cook, who earlier determined that legislative confirmation was required.

“To be honest, it’s a very close call,” Sullivan said.

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Gov. Palin Target Of NEW Alaska Ethics Complaint for Children’s Travel Expenses

CBS News’ investigative unit is reporting on a new complaint filed in Juneau, Alaska against Governor Sarah Palin related to travel expenses by Gov. Palin’s children which were charged to Alaskan taxpayers.

Alaska Governor and Republican Vice President hopeful Sarah Palin may be facing another round of scrutiny, this time for charging the state for her children to travel with her while conducing official state business.

CBS News has obtained a copy of the complaint that Frank Gwartney, a retired lineman in Anchorage filed last Friday, with Alaska’s Attorney General, Talis Colberg in Juneau. “Palin ran on the platform of ethics, transparency and anti-corruption. I’m tired of the hypocrisy that exists in Government and people need to know the truth,” said Gwartney.

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.”

This new ethics complaint comes on the heels of the Federal Elections Campaign complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for spending $150,000 on pricey designer threads.

CBS News previously reported on Palin’s fashion expenditures and FEC officials said purchases for such purposes are prohibited. Campaigns are not allowed to spend donated funds on expenses a person would have had regardless if they were running as a candidate or in office. That includes items like clothing, mortgage payments, country club fees, rent, groceries, etc.

The Attorney General will refer the complaint to the personnel board which is appointed by the Governor and currently includes: Debra English, Al Tamagni, and Laura Plenert. (No state employees sit on the board.) The board then determines whether the alleged conduct would violate the ethics act. If so, an independent investigator is appointed, evidence is gathered, and people are interviewed with the intent to establish probable cause. Eventually the board makes a decision and recommendations are made that may impose penalties, or disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Palin Target Of New Ethics Complaint

In Alaska, Exposure Changes Palin Image for Good & Bad

Palins image has changed, for better and worse, in the six weeks since she joined the McCain ticket.

Palin's image has changed, for better and worse, in the six weeks since she joined the McCain Republican presidential ticket.

Journalist Sean Cockerham, reporting for the Anchorage Daily News, looks ahead at Governor Sarah Palin’s political future after the presidential election, both in Alaska and on a national level.  Following her polarizing, negative campaign for the vice-presidency, Gov. Palin will be faced with a much more aggressive Alaska Legislature that will no longer be intimidated by her or the tactics of her financial backers.

Over the past six weeks, Sarah Palin has morphed on the national campaign trail from bipartisan small state governor to a conservative lightning rod. Even if she doesn’t win the vice presidency, her political career will never be the same.

Palin has always attracted controversy, but she is now a far more polarizing figure, both in Alaska as well as nationally, than before her nomination. If she returns, the Republican governor will face former Democratic allies furious at her campaign attacks. She will also face lawmakers from both parties ticked off at her handling of the so-called Troopergate investigation and her recent false assertions that the investigator’s report cleared her, according to interviews with a number of lawmakers and others who watch Alaska politics.

“We’ve seen her do and say things that are shocking to us, so it’s going to be different, to put it mildly,” said Juneau Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula, the House minority leader. “We have a whole different way of looking at her.”

But Palin would also return as a national figure who excited huge crowds across the nation and is already being described as a potential presidential candidate four years from now. She continues to enjoy high approval ratings among Alaskans, and she would come back a seasoned campaigner with new political chops.

“The main thing is, if she comes back as governor and McCain didn’t win, I do not think she’ll be blamed for it all. She won’t come back as a loser,” said Anchorage political consultant and pollster Dave Dittman. “She’d come back, I think as a winner, or as a person who if McCain had paid more attention to her or followed her lead could have been successful. I think she’d come back strong.”

The McCain-Palin campaign is down in the polls, but nearly three weeks remain until election day. In the meantime, her unexpected rise to the national stage and her new political persona has Alaskans speculating about what happens if she doesn’t win and comes back as governor.

“It’s a question on everybody’s mind,” said Mike Hawker, a Republican state representative from Anchorage.

Gregg Erickson, former publisher of a publication on state government who has watched Alaska politics for decades, predicted a rougher road for Palin than in the past.

“I think things will be very, very different for her if she comes back,” Erickson said. “She’s done some things as vice-presidential candidate that are not favorable for her role as governor, her ability to govern.”

Dittman agreed that a returning Palin would face a more aggressive Legislature than before her turn on the national stage, one that probably wouldn’t be as intimidated by her as before.

Palin has always been much more popular with the public than with legislators. Back when pollsters measured her approval rating among Alaskans in the 80 percent range, it was tough for legislators to resist her. Her Alaska approval ratings have dropped since her nomination to as low as 62 percent, at least according to some pollsters. That’s still an enviable approval rating.

The strength of the opposition, Erickson said, would depend on whether she slid any more after the election was over.

A NEW PALIN?

Palin foes and allies agree she’s likely to seek another national office if she doesn’t win the vice presidency. While she has been ridiculed by some, she has a devoted base of supporters and there’s speculation a U.S. Senate run could be in her future, or even a presidential bid the next time the Republican nomination comes open.

North Pole Republican state Rep. John Coghill said if Palin returns to Alaska as governor, there will always be the question of whether her decisions are being made for the good of the state or to position herself for national office.

“If she comes back then she’s going to have to be very clear of what her motives are in her decisions,” Coghill said.

Coghill said, overall, he’d expect a returning Palin to be more experienced and a little savvier. He said Palin would have national horsepower that she could use to advance Alaska’s interests. He said it would put Alaska in a “nice, favored position.”

But Juneau Democratic Sen. Kim Elton suggested in his newsletter this week that Palin’s broadside about Barack Obama “palling around with terrorists” and other one-liners from rallies have potential blowback for Alaska if Obama is elected and Palin has to work with the Democratic administration.

It’s clear that Palin’s relationship with Alaska Democrats is in deep freeze. That’s a turnaround from pre-nomination days, when Palin’s fiercest critics in the Legislature were Republicans and she relied on Democrats to get through her two biggest bills — a tax increase on oil companies and a license for a Canadian firm to pursue a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48.

Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski, one of the legislators who allied with her on those big issues in Juneau, said he “barely recognizes” the current Palin.

“It’s disappointing to see her bashing Democrats when her main political successes would never have passed without significant support from Democrats,” he said.

Anchorage Republican Hawker said Palin’s frostier relationship with the Democrats could have the effect of helping some Republican legislators warm up to her who weren’t Palin fans before. Hawker said Palin might also now realize that “just because you are a Republican in Alaska does not make you an evil person.”

Many Alaska Republican legislators have complained Palin has been too broad during her time as governor in suggesting that the state’s politics are corrupt.

REBUILDING TRUST

Kenai Republican Rep. Mike Chenault, considered to be a potential speaker of the state House when the Legislature convenes in January, said it remains to be seen how Palin’s new political persona plays with Republican lawmakers.

“It’s hard to say which if any Republicans would change their position on the governor based upon either her running for vice president or her handling of Troopergate,” Chenault said.

There’s resentment among some legislators of both parties for how Palin handled the Legislature’s investigation into her dismissal of her public safety commissioner and if she improperly pressured him to fire a state trooper once married to her sister.

The governor’s surrogates bashed the Alaska Democratic legislators leading the investigation, who were some of her biggest allies on oil and gas issues, saying they were Obama fans who made their bias clear. The investigation, though, was authorized by unanimous vote of the bipartisan Legislative Council, and some Republicans bristled at Palin’s refusal to cooperate in it as well as her attorney general’s failed challenge of the Legislature’s subpoenas.

Steve Branchflower, the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, released his report on Friday concluding that Palin abused her power and broke state ethics law in pressing for the trooper to be fired. But Palin’s response to the report was to say that she was vindicated and “I’m very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there.”

The report said Palin’s removal of her commissioner, Walt Monegan, was not solely about his refusal to fire the state trooper but it was likely a contributing factor. Palin has the right to dismiss a commissioner for any reason she likes.

Legislators are far from united in their reaction to the report, with some Republicans agreeing with Palin it was a political circus. There’s no sign lawmakers are planning to take any formal action against Palin. But hard feelings abound.

“Those people who don’t believe and don’t support the governor, I think the events will perhaps exacerbate their outrage,” said Hawker, the Anchorage Republican. Likewise, he said, Palin supporters are likely to “express their moral outrage at what they feel is a persecution of the governor.”

If she comes back as governor, Hawker said, “It will be one of her immediate challenges to get through, rebuilding fences, rebuilding trust. Those issues will be there with both the Democrats and the Republicans.”

Exposure Changes Palin Image for Good & Bad

Alaska AG: State employees won’t honor subpoenas: Alaska attorney general says state employees won’t honor subpoenas in probe of Gov. Palin

Associated Press Writer Matt Volz reports September 17, 2008 that the Republican Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg has announced that Alaska state employees previously subpoenas will refuse to testify in the official ethics investigation of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad

Alaska’s investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power, a potentially damaging distraction for John McCain’s  presidential campaign, ran into intensified resistance Tuesday when the attorney general said state employees would refuse to honor subpoenas in the case.

In a letter to state Sen. Hollis French, the Democrat overseeing the investigation, Republican Attorney General Talis Colberg asked that the subpoenas be withdrawn. He also said the employees would refuse to appear unless either the full state Senate or the entire Legislature votes to compel their testimony.

Colberg, who was appointed by Palin, said the employees are caught between their respect for the Legislature and their loyalty to the governor, who initially agreed to cooperate with the inquiry but has increasingly opposed it since McCain chose her as his running mate.

“This is an untenable position for our clients because the governor has so strongly stated that the subpoenas issued by your committee are of questionable validity,” Colberg wrote.

Last week, French’s Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed 13 people. They include 10 employees of Palin’s administration and three who are not: her husband, Todd Palin;  John Bitney, Palin’s former legislative liaison who now is chief of staff for Republican House Speaker John Harris;  and Murlene Wilkes, a state contractor.

French did not immediately return a telephone call Tuesday for comment.

Alaska AG: State employees won’t honor subpoenas: Alaska attorney general says state employees won’t honor subpoenas in probe of Gov. Palin

Republican Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday