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Ethics with Teeth

There have been 17 separate ethics complaints lodged against soon-to-be-former Governor Palin. She is calling for a new ethics policy for Alaska. And she’s right.

But her reasoning is so very wrong.

Palin sees ethics complaints as a nuisance that have cost the state “millions” of dollars. Both the press and Palin are guilty of inflating the actual costs associated with the ethics investigations. This article outlines the truth about the money:

Cost of ethics investigations

For a brief moment I will defend Palin. She is probably somewhat a victim of a state that has been historically lax in its observation of ethics. Fallout clouds from the investigations into dealings by both Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young probably contaminated the playing field for Palin. But her lack of dignity and desire to blame others for any challenge she faces lends credibility to questions about her behavior. She comes off alternately as someone who is hiding something and someone who is unwilling to take responsibility for her own behavior.

And then there is the matter of the need for a new ethics policy. She claims that most of the complaints against her have proven “baseless.” That is simply false. Here is an example of one complaint that was thrown out:

Spending Complaint

This complaint was thrown out because the state’s ethics policy has no teeth. Why is it acceptable for a holder of a state office to use state resources to produce news about themselves and their interest in a national office? Up until now it has been a non-issue in Alaska. Instead of expecting a lax state ethics policy to police her behavior, Palin should have recognized that such spending of state money was questionable.

Instead she spends her time, and ours, complaining that ethics investigations are wasting state resources. Whether determined to be accurate or unfounded, an ethics investigation is never a waste of money. In fact, a state such as Alaska where money has flowed freely for years, where the state capital is physically inaccessible to the majority of state citizens, and where there is a culture of lawlessness, there should be a multitude of investigations.

Moreover, there should be vast state resources dedicated to rewriting a new state ethics policy that directly guides state leaders who are unable to think for themselves.


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