The lawyers representing both Sarah and Todd Palin issued a three-page attack on the investigative report, including the contention that Ethics Act violations can only involve financial motives and financial "potential gain, or the avoidance of a potential loss."
"Here, there is no accusation, no finding and no facts that money or financial gain to the Governor was involved in the decision to replace Monegan," the lawyers said.
Any abuse of power, they said, was on the part of the Legislative Council members, not the Palins. |CNN|
Let's start by getting the facts straight. Is the Ethics Act limited in the way Palin's representatives are claiming? The scope of the Executive Ethics Act is given at Sec. 39.52.110 where it says that, "each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust." The act goes on at Sec. 39.52.120 to describe misuse of official position, giving a list beginning with "(a) A public officer may not use, or attempt to use, an official position for personal gain, and may not intentionally secure or grant unwarranted benefits or treatment for any person" and also including, "(3) use state time, property, equipment, or other facilities to benefit personal or financial interests" and, "(5) attempt to benefit a personal or financial interest through coercion of a subordinate or require another public officer to perform services for the private benefit of the public officer at any time". Sec. 39.52.140.b prohibits use or disclosure of confidential information: "A current or former public officer may not disclose or use, without appropriate authorization, information acquired in the course of official duties that is confidential by law."
I suppose that you could take all of that together and conclude that phrases like 'personal or financial interest' are always and only talking about dollars and cents. Fair enough. I take you at your word. Please explain Sec. 39.52.225: "Before granting executive clemency to an applicant for executive clemency, the governor shall disclose in writing to the attorney general whether granting the clemency would benefit a personal or financial interest of the governor." My own view is that the ethics act extends beyond mere financial wrongdoing. I think I have the better of the argument.
So those are the facts. But let's unpack the defense. The argument is that (1) Nothing is an abuse of power unless it leads to a financial benefit. (2) Palin did not benefit financially from her actions. Therefore, (3) Palin did nothing wrong.
What on earth is that argument doing in a press release? The Governor used the apparatus of the state to pursue a personal vendetta against a low level state employee, but she didn't gain financially from it, so she did nothing wrong. Please try again.