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An uncommon ethics query: What's a good gift for Palin's baby?

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What happens when a governor whose strong stand on ethics is an important part of her phenomenal popularity is having a baby, and suddenly everybody wants to give her gifts?

It means there are a lot of people checking the ethics rules to find out what they can and can't give Gov. Sarah Palin.

Small but symbolic gifts seem to be the way to go for many.

State Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, was one offering that suggestion.

"I'm probably going to get her some baby moccasins, handmade by Tlingit elders," she said.

U.S. Rep. Don Young's wife, Lu, sent along a baby cup, said Sharon Leighow, the governor's spokeswoman.

Kerttula and Young both differ with Palin on some big issues, with Palin even endorsing Rep. Young's opponent in the Republican primary. But both join many others who want to offer their best wishes despite political differences.

The Capital Correspondents Association opted for a card instead of a gift for Palin, hoping to keep on the right side of ethical lines.

"I think a card is a great way to go," Kerttula said. "I'm sure she would not solicit gifts."

Through Leighow, Palin declined to comment, calling her pregnancy a "private matter."

The executive branch ethics adviser in the Department of Law said personal gifts over $150 must be publicly disclosed, Leighow said. That's typically not much of a problem, she said, as gifts to the governor such as Alaska artwork usually remain property of the state.

On a recent Anchorage radio show, however, Palin was asked about what she wanted for baby gifts. She responded that because she already had four children, she had quite a bit of baby items on hand already.

Contributions should probably go to those who are more in need anyway, she said.

Rebecca Braun of the Alaska Budget Report, former president of the Capital Correspondents Association and a new mother herself, urged the group to send a card instead of a gift.

"Believe me, she will get plenty of cute socks and onesies for the baby," Braun said. "I'm quite a bit less famous and got nearly too many baby presents to use."

• Contact reporter Pat Forgeyat 586-4816 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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