One of the chief reasons Sarah Palin has given for resigning as Governor of Alaska is that her state’s taxpayers are being forced to spend money defending her government against ethics complaints that would otherwise fund teachers, cops, and road repair.
But in response to our questions, a spokesperson for the Alaska governor’s office just gave us new information that casts serious doubt on this assertion. The revelation makes the resignation episode even stranger, and raises fresh questions about the real reasons for her abrupt departure.
During her resignation speech last week, Palin presented herself as a heroic defender of the taxpayer. She said that money being spent on government lawyers to defend against these “frivolous ethics violations” could be “going to things that are very important, like troopers and roads and teachers and fish research.” Palin repeated exactly the same point this week.
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.
In other words, while these lawyers might have been free to do other legal work for the state, the ethics complaints have apparently not had the real world impact Palin has claimed, and didn’t drain money away from cops, teachers, roads and other things.
Similarly, TPM reports that there are only three ethics complaints outstanding against the Palin administration in any case — which, combined with the above, casts serious doubts on one of her chief stated reasons for quitting.
Murrow has not responded to folllow-up questions asking him to explain how this squares with Palin’s claims. We’ll update you if he does.
Okay, so is anyone reallllly surprised???
(noise of crickets)
No, I didn't think so.