Thursday, December 3, 2009
Governor Palin, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper."
Via her Facebook page:
The Ethos of Ethics
When the Governor announced her decision to resign on July 3, she pointed out the then 15 frivolous ethics complaints that had been filed against her and dismissed. It was intended to explain, in part, her decision to resign as well to educate the public about the abuse of the Alaska Ethics Act through a repetitive stream of baseless partisan accusations, each one seemingly more pointless and frivolous than the next. The Governor’s message was not intended as an invitation to run off half-cocked and file more baseless ethics complaints, but not everyone understood that message—or wanted to understand. In August 2009, largely in response to the abuse of Alaska’s Ethics Act by partisan shills and low level lackeys, the Attorney General issued an opinion recommending changes to the Ethics Act ”to prevent another potential harm—abuse of the process. Some Alaskans have argued that the Ethics Act has been used inappropriately in some circumstances to politically damage the subject of the complaint.” (August 5, 2009 Attorney General Opinion). That argument was asserted by the Anchorage Daily News. “Our View: Abuse of Ethics Complaints Turns Good Law Into Bad Politics,” Anchorage Daily News, May 3, 2009. The Attorney General further recommended “another safeguard to discourage habitual complaint filers who use the Ethics Act process to harass executive branch employees. Statutory amendments could provide authority to the personnel board to decline to process further complaints filed by a person who has abused the Act in this way.” Though it is encouraging to see an impartial evaluation of the problem, it is ultimately up to the Legislature to implement any of these recommended changes. Governor Palin has been subjected to 24 ethics complaints, several lawsuits, and dozens and dozens of public information act requests, few of which raised even a scintilla of a good faith issue, and most of which were simply done to garner a headline or promote opposition research for political gain.
Recently we learned that two more ethics complaints against Governor Palin have been dismissed—complaints that were filed after the Governor announced her plans to step down. One complaint asserted that it was unethical for the state to follow its own per diem regulations and pay per diem to the Governor as set forth by law. Of course, the complainant conveniently overlooked that the Governor and her family received less per diem than they were entitled to under State law—why let such details stand in the way of an ethics complaint? The other complaint that was dismissed asserted that the Governor, through me, supposedly violated the constitution because we informed a person who falsely implied that the Governor was “under investigation” by the FBI, that such statements are defamatory. It is notable to watch those who agitate on all things Palin—locally and even across the Atlantic—as they Huff and puff falsehoods about Sarah Palin under the guise of free speech, which brings us to a teachable moment. All too often we hear about constitutional rights—as we should—but many forget about constitutional responsibilities. As citizens we have both rights and responsibilities. Though we have the right to exercise free speech, we have the responsibility to exercise that right without defaming people. I like the way our Alaska Constitution describes it: “Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.” Ak. Const. Art. I, Sec. 5. The irony of filing an ethics complaint because of a reminder about the constitutional parameters of free speech is no doubt lost on those consumed by irrationality when it comes to Sarah Palin; but one does not need an ethics law to know that positive political discourse depends on a robust debate about facts and the policy implications stemming from such facts. The nation is not helped by calumnious ad hominem attacks against Sarah Palin, matrilineal conspiracy theories and aberrant notions of ethics.
- Thomas Van Flein, Personal Attorney for Sarah Palin