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Ethics complaints cost state nearly $2 million

July 09, 2009
  • New numbers released from the governor's office show the state has spent nearly $2 million investigating ethics complaints. (KTUU-DT)
New numbers released from the governor's office show the state has spent nearly $2 million investigating ethics complaints. (KTUU-DT)

by Lori Tipton
Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The cost of complaints just keeps adding up.

New numbers released from the governor's office show the state has spent nearly $2 million investigating ethics complaints against Gov. Sarah Palin and her staff.

These numbers were released to back up Palin's claim that these frivolous ethics complaints have cost taxpayers too much, and one state lawmaker hopes to help change that.

Before Palin announced she would be calling it quits, she noted that she and her staff have spent more time lately battling ethics complaints than doing state business.

"I have been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations such as holding a fish in a photograph or wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters' questions," Palin said.

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Palin noted that all 15 were dismissed, but proving she was right has not been cheap.

A spreadsheet from the governor's office shows more than $1.9 million was spent by various state agencies to handle ethics complaints and public records requests up until June 23.

"It cost Alaskans $2 million, your dollars, my dollars, everybody's dollars," said state Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage.

Lynn says he wants to make it harder to file ethics complaints against the governor and is working on a bill aimed at discouraging frivolous complaints by requiring confidentiality.

"What's happening now is people are filing what appear to be frivolous complaints," Lynn said. "And it's all over TV, it's all over the radio, the newspaper and everything before they've had a chance to weigh in on it."

Lynn says Palin's popularity could be fueling more ethics complaints, and with his bill a case would only be made public if the charges are substantiated.

"It appears it is more for political agenda rather than trying to get to the bottom of some ethics complaint," Lynn said.

Some have criticized Lynn, saying whether valid or not, a complaint should not be silenced.

"Everybody ought to have the right to file an ethics complaint, against somebody in the legislature or the administration," Lynn said. "But it should not be done with a political agenda it should be done because they think something is really there."

Lynn told Channel 2 his goal is to help not just Gov. Palin, but future governors.

Contact Lori Tipton at ltipton@ktuu.com

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