The Alaska Fund Trust, the most hubristically-named piece of legal defense fundraising in the state of Alaska, has felt the sunshine of scrutiny, and it isn't holding up too well. It seems as though the Associated Press got its hands on some interesting information involving an ethics complaint against the governor's office that was dismissed as 'frivolous' by the Palin administration. The complaint questioned the legality of the fund itself.
After the independent investigation was completed, the findings seem to indicate that the complaint had merit, and uncovered some unsavory legal fundraising tactics.
The report obtained by The Associated Press says Palin is securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts through the Alaska Fund Trust, set up by supporters.
An investigator for the state Personnel Board says in his July 14 report that there is probable cause to believe Palin used or attempted to use her official position for personal gain because she authorized the creation of the trust as the "official" legal defense fund.
The Alaska Fund Trust is managed by long time friend Kristan Cole who states on the site:
I joined with fellow Alaskans in forming the Alaska Fund Trust to help alleviate the Governor's legal debt incurred while performing her job as well as eliminate the incentive for future attacks by her opponents. In doing so, we have created one of the most restrictive and transparent legal funds in history.
Restrictive? Maybe. Transparent? Apparently. Legal? Not according to the investigation.
As recently as last month, a conservative website was conducting a "webathon" to raise money for the fund, in an attempt to retire Palin's growing legal debt. And despite the fact that the report was dated July 14, one week ago, as of this writing, the Alaska Fund Trust website is still up and running, and still soliciting donations.
The release of this information raises some interesting questions. First of all, how did the Associated Press get this information? Normally the findings of an investigation by the Personnel Board would not be available to the public. Ironically, in 2004 when Palin herself was told that the findings of a complaint that she filed would not be made public, she stated that she wanted to find a "hero" in the legislature who could change that law.
Will the governor have to pay back those who donated to the legal defense fund? The fund has actively been raising funds for months, and reporting tremendous success in their goal of paying off the governor's sizable legal debt, which has been reported as high as $600,000.
Why, when the governor has known about this for a week, is the Alaska Fund Trust still continuing to solicit donations?
The governor delivered a rambling "I'm not a quitter, I'm just leading in another direction" speech on the third of July, leaving the media and Alaskans wondering about the "real" reason she resigned the governorship. What, if anything did this finding have to do with it?
Suddenly the meme of "frivolous ethics complaints" has lost its sting.
[Follow this story as it develops at The Mudflats]
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