Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Palin, Ethical Lapses & Troopergate

If you do not know the history of Troopergate, you can read up on this convuluted story at JoshuaPundit. The ethical question is whether Gov. Palin attempted to improperly influence her subordinates to get her out of control ex-brother in law fired from his job as a State Trooper. The matter is being investigated by a commission that is to issue its report on October 31. There have been two developments today and a crytstal clear breach of ethics.

One, Gov. Palin released an affidavit that has been filed in the case. The affidavit sets out the facts of the case. Having read the document, and assuming that the facts set out therein are true, then she has nothing to worry about. Indeed, the affidavit references statements from the other primary actors involved that completely exonerate the Governor. One person from her office did overstep his bounds in a phone call, but that person has indicated that he did so on his own. Apparently, Gov. Palin learned about that phone call after this investigation had already begun.

The commission investigation into this ethics complaint is another matter entirely. This is an ongoing investigation. As such, I can assure you that commenting on the state of the investigation is a serious ethical breach. Yet that is precisely what the person in charge of the investigation, Democratic State Senator David French, has done in an interview with ABC. It is just outrageous and, if ever there was a clear breach of ethics, we are seeing it here:

"The Governor first issued a blanket denial but now she's had to back down and that's a problem," said French. "She has a credibility problem," he said.

. . . French says the McCain campaign failed to contact any of the Senators involved in the investigation during the vetting process of Gov. Palin.

"If they had done their job they never would have picked her," said French. "Now they may have to deal with an October surprise," he said, referring to the scheduled release Oct. 31 of the committee's final report.

. . . The report is a preliminary step prior to any effort to impeach the Governor, said French.

"That will be for the legislature to decide," he said.

If this investigation results in a finding implicating the Governor in improper acts, so be it. We will learn that on Oct. 31, once all witnesses have been interviewed and findings made. But given French's comments above and his speculation on the findings of the investigation, he should be stripped of his position and be subjected to an ethics complaint himself. This truly is outrageous.


vinny said...

Reminds me of the Duke lacross players investigation. Sounds like she is being nifonged.

kavips said...

Actually since it is news. There is no ethics violation in giving information to a news organizations, especially during an investigation.

It is legal. It is always done. It is even protected under the Constitution.

The entire concept of not speaking to the media, stems from self protection, not ethics....

GW said...

I beg to differ. This would be akin to a judge coming out in mid-trial and pronouncing a likely verdict, or the police half way into an investigation pronouncing on the outcome of the investigation. It is the height of bias.

I am pretty familiar with the Constitution. But by all means, point me to the case law on this one. This is not the same as an advocate for one side or the other making speechs. This is the head of the investigating authority - which is supposed to be a neutral body.

I do not know Alaska law. But I would be absolutely amazed to find this not covered in a cannon of ethics or under the regulations. This is such a fundamental breach of ethics during an investigation it is jaw dropping.