New Palin defense fund uses fighting words

Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ANCHORAGE - The administrators of a new legal defense fund set up for Sarah Palin have sent out e-mails to supporters and others that downplay the outcome of ethics complaints against the former Alaska governor and accuse her political enemies of waging a "vicious campaign" to ruin her.

The unsigned e-mails by the Sarah Palin Legal Defense Fund also blast the Alaska Democratic Party, saying it has sponsored more than two dozen ethics complaints against Palin - charges the party called outright lies.

"They put out all this misinformation, half-truths, assumptions and innuendoes, and at the end they make a conclusion based on a house of cards. It's ridiculous," party chairwoman Patti Higgins said Monday.

The fund was set up last week when an ethics investigator found an earlier fund was illegal. Under a settlement agreement Palin made with the state Personnel Board, the nearly $390,000 collected before her July 27, 2009, resignation as governor will be returned within 90 days.

No wrongdoing on Palin's part was found. In releasing his findings Thursday, personnel board investigator Timothy Petumenos said Palin acted in good faith and relied on a team of attorneys.

A political consulting firm helping to launch the fund said it mistakenly sent an early rough draft e-mail about the fund to more than 10,000 e-mail addresses on Monday.

The correct e-mail went out last Thursday to tens of thousands of additional e-mail accounts, Justin Hart of Herndon, Va.-based RaiseDigital said Monday evening.

Both e-mails about the new fund call last week's action a victory for enemies of the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate "in their vicious campaign to smear, bankrupt, and force this dedicated public servant and conservative leader out of politics!" The approved version of the e-mail calls the victory limited.

But the draft incorrectly says Palin amassed millions of dollars in legal bills from multiple "frivolous" ethics complaints against her. The corrected version sent Thursday said she has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Hart said the draft was written by his company, with edits by several Palin associates including Tim Crawford, a fund trustee. He said the draft e-mail was inadvertently sent by a RaiseDigital employee in a case of human error.

Crawford said Monday the response from donors has been very good, but he declined to say how much has been raised.

Both versions of the e-mail state the Alaska Democratic Party is behind the multiple ethics complaints filed against Palin. They add that 26 of 27 complaints have been dismissed.

In reality, not all the complaints were dismissed outright.

One complaint - also investigated by Petumenos - focused on state-paid trips Palin took with her children as governor. That case, which found vague state regulations but no wrongdoing on Palin's part, concluded with a settlement agreement by Palin to reimburse the state about $8,000 for costs associated with nine trips taken by her children.

Another complaint that alleged Palin and some staff members used their influence to get a supporter a job in state government was dismissed with a recommendation of ethics training for a Palin staffer who made questionable comments in e-mails.

An investigation by state lawmakers over Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner in the so-called Troopergate scandal concluded that she violated a state ethics law prohibiting public officials from using their office for personal gain. The firing itself was deemed lawful since the commissioner was an at-will employee. In a separate investigation prompted by Palin, Petumenos said she violated no ethics laws.



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