Palin ethics complaints didn't take away from schools, roads

Money that went to investigating ethics complaints would have gone to lawyers anyway

By Alex Koppelman
July 9, 2009 6:45PM (UTC)
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When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced her resignation, one of the reasons she gave was the cost of all the ethics complaints that have been filed against her. "Every one -- all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We've won! But it hasn't been cheap -- the State has wasted THOUSANDS of hours of YOUR time and shelled out some two million of YOUR dollars to respond to 'opposition research' -- that's money NOT going to fund teachers or troopers -- or safer roads," she said. (Emphasis in the text sent out by her office.)

But as Joan Walsh writes in her blog, that total appears to have been inflated, and most of the complaints were not actually about opposition research.


Plus, the Anchorage Daily News reports, the money that went to investigating the ethics complaints wasn't really diverted from "teachers or troopers -- or safer roads." It was money that would have gone to state lawyers anyway.

Now, that doesn't mean the investigations were without cost, or that they didn't divert resources from places they might have been more valuable. The Palin administration's defense of the governor's statements is that lawyers and other employees had to be pulled off other work, leaving it to less-qualified replacements or being forced to put less time into their normal priorities. That does appear to be true, and it certainly didn't help Alaskan taxpayers much. But they didn't see money earmarked for schools, police or roads go elsewhere, either.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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