July 9th 2009
alin-bashers are jumping on a post in Greg Sargent’s The Plum Line that supposedly debunks one of Sarah Palin’s primary stated reasons for resigning – the burden the endless, phony, Dem-fired ethics claims are putting on the state’s budget, which is already teetering from lower oil revenues.
Here’s what she said:
Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I’ve been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations – such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters’ questions.
Every one – all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We’ve won! But it hasn’t been cheap – the State has wasted THOUSANDS of hours of YOUR time and shelled out some two million of YOUR dollars to respond to “opposition research” – that’s money NOT going to fund teachers or troopers – or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the “politics of personal destruction” … Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn’t cost them a dime so they’re not going to stop draining public resources – spending other peoples’ money in their game.
And here’s the dismissal of the claim by Sargent:
But David Murrow, a spokesperson for the Governor, said in an interview that much of this money was budgeted to the lawyers in advance and would have gone to them anyway, even if state lawyers hadn’t been defending against these ethics complaints.
In response to our questions, the Governor’s office provided us with a detailed breakdown of the millions Palin has claimed has gone to defending against ethics complaints. It does list roughly $1.9 million in expenditures.
But Murrow, the spokesperson, acknowledged to our reporter, Amanda Erickson, that this total was arrived at by adding up attorney hours spent on fending off complaints — based on the fixed salaries of lawyers in the governor’s office and the Department of Law. The money would have gone to the lawyers no matter what they were doing. The complaints are “just distracting them from other duties,” Murrow said.
We can assume, given the harsh spending cuts Palin has imposed since oil revenues dropped, that the state attorneys’ budget was established because there was a certain level of caseload that needed their attention. State attorneys’ case loads are not the sort of thing you can put off until another day. Draft bills and regulations have to be reviewed by a date certain to keep up with schedules that are set in law; only so many days are allotted for appeals to be filed and writs to be responded to.
Sargent doesn’t ask how the state attorneys managed to deal with that while fighting back the wave of frivolous ethics claims, and where the money came from to handle it. Such subtleties are lost on the Left as evidenced by this intro to Sargent’s post in one Leftyblog:
Far be it from me to call Sarah Palin a liar.
I kid. It’s not far or be it or from me at all. I call her a liar on a regular basis. See, Miss Personality Disorder? See how I did that? See how easy it is to tell the truth?
And off the blogger tramps into the quotes I cited above.
Sargent is right on one score: There is one pot of attorney budget money and another set of pots for “teachers or troopers – or safer roads,” so you can’t draw a bright line connecting them, as Palin did in a bit of harmless rhetoric. But in a state like Alaska, which is struggling to fill a $1.25 billion budget shortfall, you can’t blow out one area of the budget without having impacts elsewhere.
The larger question is why weren’t the media asking questions about who was bringing these ethics claims, why they were doing it, and how they justified the costs incurred by taxpayers as a result.
It’s clear Palin saw herself as a target, and a rather costly one at that. None of this was her doing, as the defeated ethics challenges prove. It is the fault of the hate-mongering Left, and for a small-budget state like Alaska that’s fighting deficits, expensive targets are unquestionably a burden. But, as usual, the Left is skipping along, believing themselves to be utterly blame-free.