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Thread: Settlement: Sarah Palin must pay Alaska $7,000 for children's travel expenses

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    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    Default Settlement: Sarah Palin must pay Alaska $7,000 for children's travel expenses

    JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will reimburse the state nearly $7,000 for costs associated with nine trips taken by her children, her attorney said Tuesday.

    Palin must reimburse the state within 120 days, according to a settlement agreement filed by a special investigator hired by the Alaska Personnel Board to investigate an ethics complaint filed against her.

    The exact amount will be determined by the Alaska Department of Administration, said Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein. He estimated the amount would be $6,800.

    There is no state law prohibiting the governor's family from traveling with her and the personnel board found no wrongdoing on the part of the governor. But the investigator, Timothy Petumenos, interpreted the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act to require that state only pay if the first family serves an important state interest.

    Petumenos said "some of the travel raised by the Complaint does not meet this standard," according to the agreement.

    Van Flein said 72 travel authorizations were studied, with nine found to be of questionable state interest.

    Those include airfare and one meal for her daughter Bristol Palin, who accompanied the governor to New York for Newsweek's Third Annual Women and Leadership Conference in October 2007.

    Other trips include Bristol attending "Beauty and the Beast" at the Valley Performing Arts Center, airfare for daughters Piper and Bristol to travel to Juneau from Anchorage for the State of the State address and airfare for Piper to attend the start of the Iron Dog snowmachine race and the Alaska Outdoor Council Banquet.

    Van Flein said the governor's action in reaching the agreement was voluntary and above what was legally and ethically required of her.

    "She did not have to do this. She did not have to reach this agreement and she's been fully cleared by this investigation," he said. "The problem that was raised by the complaint was determined to be a lack of clarity in the rules and regulations and a lack of familiarity, because of that lack of clarity, with long-term state employees whose job it is to handle this."

    The complaint was filed in October by Anchorage Democrat Frank Gwartney, 60, who alleged that Palin used her official position as governor for personal gain, violating a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.

    Gwartney, a retired power company lineman, said he was not surprised that the personnel board, whose three members are appointed by the governor, failed to find wrongdoing.

    "I think it's really apparent that she was wrongfully using state funds to conduct personal business," he said. "They basically are an extension of the governor's office so I think they would be hard pressed to actually come out and condemn her as they should."

    Gwartney's complaint followed a report by The Associated Press that Palin charged the state more than $21,000 for her three daughters' commercial flights, including events where they weren't invited, and later ordered their expense forms amended to specify official state business.

    Administration officials have said Alaska law allows governors to charge the state for their family's travel if they conduct state business.

    Petumenos was asked to examine the complaint at the same time he was investigating allegations that Palin fired her public safety commissioner over his refusal to let go a state trooper involved in a contentious divorce with Palin's sister.

    That investigation found there was no probable cause to believe Palin or any other state official violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act.

    In a separate legislative investigation, special counsel Stephen Branchflower found that Palin had abused her office but the firing was legal since Commissioner Walt Monegan was an at-will employee.

    The so-called "Troopergate" scandal became politically charged after Palin was tapped to be Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate.
    Palin Kids Travel: Will Reimburse State

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Palin must reimburse the state within 120 days, according to a settlement agreement filed by a special investigator hired by the Alaska Personnel Board to investigate an ethics complaint filed against her.

    KARMA!

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    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    People are starving in the villages, and she's using taxpayer (oops, oil company) money for Bristol to see "Beauty and the Beast". Disgusting, grifting cow.

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    You mean.. mommy can get them freebies anymore?


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    Elite Member cmmdee's Avatar
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    Petumenos said "some of the travel raised by the Complaint does not meet this standard," according to the agreement.

    You don't say!

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    Elite Member WhoAmI's Avatar
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    Apparently they cut a deal with her: if she didn't dispute SOME of the findings, they wouldn't officially charge her. She does have the right to hire and fire the members of the Personnel Board, after all!

    Governor Sarah Palin yesterday agreed to pay an estimated $6800 for what she charged the state for her children’s travel expenses and related costs since assuming her role as governor.

    This all came about as the result of an ethics complaint filed against Palin by Frank Gwartney, a retired electrical lineman who had had enough of Palin’s hypocrisy regarding cleaning up government, and stopping abuses. The complaint, which was filed in October after new information came out about her state paid family travel, was sent to the Personnel Board and investigator…..(wait for it)…..Tim Petumenos. You remember him. He’s the one that said (despite the Legislative Investigation into the Troopergate ethics scandal, and their finding that Palin was guilty of abuse of power under the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act) that Palin was innocent of any wrongdoing. And the fact that there was contradictory testimony from Palin and Walt Monegan? Well….that just wasn’t worth pursuing in his humble opinion.

    So now, after looking at FORTY examples of the state paying for Palin’s children to travel with her, he’s come up with 9 instances where he found the personal benefit outweighed the benefit to the state, and Palin has agreed to pay for these 9 occasions in exchange for getting to say “I did nothing wrong!” and for Petumenos agreeing not to file a formal accusation or take the case to a hearing. Not a bad deal. Palin get’s to pay a small amount in order to stop an investigation, and also gets to claim, according to her attorney that she was “exhonorated.”

    The charges at issue include the cost of airfare and one meal when daughter Bristol to accompanied Palin to New York City in 2007 for a women’s leadership conference, according to the settlement agreement. State travel forms put that cost at about $1,400.

    There’s also airfare and hotel costs for daughters Bristol and Piper to travel with their mother to the National Governors Association meeting in Philadelphia last July. State travel forms say the flights and hotel room at the Ritz Carlton cost more than $2,500.

    Other questioned trips were in Alaska, including one last year to the start of the Tesoro Iron Dog snowmachine race, in which Palin’s husband, Todd, was one of the contenders.

    So, what were the other 31 trips, where the presence of the Palin children had more benefit to the state than to them, or the governor personally? I’d like to hear what compelling reasons Mr. Petumenos found, that would make me feel good enough about the benefit to the state of Alaska that I’ll pony up money to send her kids along on the trip.

    And what did Palin have to say about this? What is her justification?

    “This is a big state, and I am obligated to — and intend to — keep Alaskans informed and meet with them as much as I can, from Barrow to Marshall to Ketchikan,” Palin said in a written statement. “At the same time, I am blessed to have a large and loving family, and the discharge of my duties should not prevent me from spending time with them.”

    So, she thinks that her job as governor shouldn’t prevent her from spending time with her family. And it shouldn’t keep her from living in Wasilla, rather than the state capital, Juneau. And it shouldn’t prevent her from taking per diem payments to live there and work in Anchorage. And it shouldn’t mean she has to pay taxes on that per diem, and her state vehicle, and on and on.

    Nothing works out like it should for the governor, does it?

    The policy found on the official state web site says that travel expenses by a state employee’s spouse, children or companions “are not reimbursable.” But somehow when applied to the governor, the rules become “dizzying and circular” according to Petumenos. And the other side agrees as well that things need to be “clarified”.

    Palin keeps saying she did nothing wrong. But when one governor’s actions constantly tiptoe over the line, meaning that ethics rules need to be “clarified” and reevaluated at every turn, and when public opinion sees the obvious lack of ethics that went into the decision making process, then it means they did do something wrong. Whatever leads a governor to say “It’s OK to charge the state to live and eat in my own home” and “Sure, the state should pay for my huge family to travel with me everywhere because I shouldn’t have to give anything up like other people do” shows a basic disconnect, hubris, and a sense that the person feels that they are owed something.

    It’s that old “inappropriate vs. illegal” argument. Alaskans would rather have none of the above.
    The Mudflats » Travelgate. More Evidence of Sarah Palin’s ‘Specialness’.
    Last edited by WhoAmI; February 25th, 2009 at 08:21 PM.

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    Just when you thought Jindall would crowd out the perils of Palin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by visitor42 View Post
    Just when you thought Jindall would crowd out the perils of Palin.
    If Palin wins the nomination in 2012, she has to pick Jindal for VP. Just imagine the Obama/Palin and Biden/Jindal debates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    If Palin wins the nomination in 2012, she has to pick Jindal for VP. Just imagine the Obama/Palin and Biden/Jindal debates.
    I'd pay to see that.SNL would pay even more!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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