[Update 7/24/09: I chatted about the issues in this article with noted Mudlflats blogger & Huffington Post contributor AK Muckraker --- an expert on all things Palin --- while Guest Hosting Thursday's Mike Malloy Show. Listen to the interview right here. Select Hour 3 audio archive. Interview begins about 10 minutes into the archive.]
A brief, two paragraph statement [PDF] by the private attorney of Alaska's very-soon-to-be-former Gov. Sarah Palin was posted on the governor's official public state website on Monday.
Attributed to "THOMAS VAN FLEIN --- Personal Attorney for Governor Palin," the statement posted to the Governor's officially run state website at www.gov.state.ak.us decries the latest ethics complaint filed against Palin --- alleging the improper disclosure of gifts and the receipt of free services --- as an abuse of the state Ethics Act.
That the official state website would be used to publicize the private response of Palin on Monday to another ethics charge is somewhat ironical, given Tuesday's leak of a preliminary independent report [PDF] from a state ethics commission investigator finding "probable cause" that Palin's "official" legal defense fund violated the Ethics Act in that it made use of her "official position for personal gain."
Citing Alaska Statute 39.52.120(a) which states that a "public officer may not use, or attempt to use, an official position for personal gain," the state's independent investigator, Thomas M. Daniel notes that "personal gain" is defined by law as "a benefit to a person's or immediate family member's personal interest or financial interest."
Does the use of the state's website to publicize Palin's personal attorney's response to an official ethics complaint constitute the use of "an official position for personal gain"? Was the complainant allowed to post her attorney's response to the complaint, or to Palin's personal response to it, on the official Alaska state website? Of course not.
Perhaps one more ethics complaint needs to be filed in Alaska before Palin quits her job as Governor this weekend.
We came across Monday's publicly posted private response via a Monday night tweet on Palin's personal Twitter page which linked to it:
7:23 PM Jul 20th from web
But, as still more irony would have it, Palin and/or her attorney may have also committed a legally actionable act of defamation in their response to the leak of yesterday's confidential "probable cause" finding....