Parnell wants to stop ethics case leaks

Posted: Friday, July 24, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell is asking Alaska's attorney general to recommend ways to stop people from leaking confidential information in ethics investigations.

"These leaks must stop," said Parnell, who will become governor Sunday upon Gov. Sarah Palin's resignation. "If we allow public officials to be tried and convicted in the press through abuse of the legal process, then the executive branch is at risk. The rule of law is threatened."

Parnell's request Thursday came two days after an independent investigator's report on a complaint against Palin was leaked to The Associated Press.

The investigator said he found probable cause Palin had violated ethics laws by trading on her position as she sought money for legal fees. Palin said in a statement this week that any notion she played a role in the defense fund is "misguided." She and her lawyer have said the matter is still pending.

Parnell compared the leak of the investigator's preliminary report to someone taking notes from a jury room and publishing them before all the evidence is in and a verdict is reached.

"If confidential information was leaked from our courts, there would be an outcry," he said. "There must be respect for the law when it comes to executive branch ethics investigations."

Bill McAllister, a spokesman for Attorney General Dan Sullivan, said Sullivan was already reviewing the law that governs ethics complaints before Parnell's request and "it will not be long before he has something to say about it."

Palin appointed Sullivan in June.

In a posting Thursday on the social network site Twitter, Palin again complained about leaks of confidential documents, saying they were "out of context 2 create false headlines, pre-judge investigation, destroy integrity of process & strip rights; Abuse WILL cont til leaks/friv filers r held accntble."

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