Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Ethics Complaint Filed Against Sarah Palin. Cat Gate?

Another ethics complaint has been filed against Governor Sarah Palin today. The list of Palin’s “gates” is long, but this complaint swings open a new one. Cat Gate. And this cat has teeth.

It all began when Governor Sarah Palin lowered the start flag at this year’s Iron Dog Snowmachine race. More than 30 teams race 1971 miles from Big Lake to Nome tracing the northern Iditarod route on “snowmobiles,” as those outside Alaska call them.

Last year’s champions? None other than Alaska’s “first dude” Todd Palin and his teammate Scott Davis as the famous Team #22. Everyone knows that. John McCain even talked about it on the campaign trail!

Palin’s sponsor? Arctic Cat - a brand of snowmachine and related gear. Arctic Cat really wanted to sponsor team Davis-Palin this year. For obvious reasons that go above and beyond Todd’s defending champion status, they knew that “Team Palin” was getting lots of attention from Alaskans, and the national media. All eyes would be on that bright green Arctic Cat logo. Turns out there was even a photo shoot and article in Sports Illustrated this year focusing on the “first dude.” That’s some nice exposure; exposure that was worth $5000 for Arctic Cat to get permission to “brand” Todd Palin and his team.

But, as anyone who has taken time to consider “conflict of interest” or anyone who has read the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act (like, hopefully, our governor) knows, there’s a line that can’t be crossed. If the governor’s family benefits directly from a private sponsor, (like getting a $5000 check from them) and the governor shows up to take an official role at an official event, representing all Alaskans, it’s a big fat no-no to show up plastered like a billboard with the official “gear” and giant flaming logo of the company that’s been paying you money.

It might look like…..you’re for sale. Now don’t get me wrong, as far as Alaska politicians selling themselves, $5000 isn’t a bad price. We’ve had state legislators sell themselves for far less than that. But haggling over the price aside, this is just not within the bounds of the rules of the state of Alaska. Period.

If not, I have the feeling Juneau would be hosting the Pepsi Legislative session, and we’d have the 3M Speaker of the House and the Napa Majority Leader. There would be meetings of the Kinkos Judiciary Committe, the Fedex Budget, and the Veco Senate President. (Yes, I know we’ve had one of those already.)

And imagine you owned the competing Polaris dealership. You might be tempted to think…”Hmmm. If I offered Team #22 a couple thousand dollars more than they’re getting from Arctic Cat, maybe I’ll get Sarah Palin to wear my flashy logo suit in front of the cameras next year!” You see where this is leading.

Thus, the reasoning behind the ethics complaint filed against the governor today by activist and local blogger Linda Kellen-Biegel of Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis. This will be the 11th complaint filed against the governor during her term in office. Other complaints have been filed by Anchorage resident Frank Gwartney, Wasilla resident Zane Henning, Anchorage resident Andree McLeod, and one or more who did not go public before filing their complaints.

[So, for those of you who have been playing at home since yesterday, speculating as to the specifics on "Implosion #5" I'll finish the cliffhanger sentence.

Today Governor Sarah Palin was stunned by.....the fact that people still haven't stopped paying attention to her unethical wardrobe choices.]

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