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Friday, May 22, 2009

Can't Beat 'Em? Bankrupt Them?

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, has been besieged by ethics complaints filed against her by political enemies and watchdog groups. None of the complaints, to date, has determined she has done anything wrong. But defending herself against them has been a financial burden on her.

She has said the complaints are merely politically motivated and without merit because more than a dozen of the dismissals say Mrs. Palin is right.

The latest complaint to be dismissed was made to the Federal Election Commission. It concerned $150,000 spent by the Republican Party for Mrs. Palin’s wardrobe. The party bought the clothes for her after she was named the party’s candidate for vice president in 2008.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the complaint. They maintained that candidates are not supposed to use donor money for personal expenses such as clothes.

CREW argued the commission’s decision opens the door for political parties to buy lavish wardrobes for candidates to use. According to The Associated Press, CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan said that such purchases “contributes to the public’s cynicism about politicians.”

Ms. Sloan founded CREW in 2003. According to the biography on the CREW Web site, she served as minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, working on criminal justice issues for then-Ranking Member John Conyers, D.-Mich, and as a counsel for a committee chaired by then-Rep. Charles Schumer D.-N.Y. She was also “Nominations Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, under then-Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.)” Mr. Biden is now the vice president and was the Democratic Party counterpart to Mrs. Palin.

Gov. Palin’s office issued a press release last week that the dismissals were “part of the mounting evidence that accusations of wrongdoing by the governor lack merit and have been politically or personally motivated.”

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