Sarah Palin, who is winding up her Palinpooloza book tour and readying herself to speak to the National Bowling Expo, has consistently claimed she was exonerated of all of the “frivolous ethics complaints filed against her.” Reality based readers across the land have long been puzzled by Palin’s blatant denial of the facts.
But Christmas came early this year for two Alsakan bloggers who got a chance to ask Palin’s lawyer about Palin’s claim. Since Palin refuses to answer any questions from the press, this opportunity was a once in a lifetime moment.
Linda Kellen Biegel, an Alaskan blogger and filer of one ethics complaint against Ms. Palin (the majority of which were actually filed by Republicans and all of which were filed by Alaskans, contrary to Palin’s insinuation that Democrats from across the land swooped into to Alaska to defame her good name), was one of two bloggers to win a lunch during a secret auction with one Thomas Van Flein, who just so happens to be Sarah Palin’s attorney. Mr Van Flein is rather notorious in Alaskan blogger circles for the threatening letters he shoots off to bloggers who have crossed the Quitin’ Queen. Said lunch took place yesterday.
Aw, say it ain’t so, Joe!
According to Ms Biegle’s accounting of the incident, Van Flein appeared surprised when he saw the two Alaskan bloggers (Ms Biegel and Gryphen from Immoral Minority) were his lunch dates.
One would rather hope that Palin’s lawyer is as good at research as he is at parsing words, enough so that he knew in advance he would be sharing lunch with the two Alaskan bloggers — one of whom he had threatened to sue (Gryphen, see our story here “Palin Lawyer Threatens to Sue Kindergarten Teacher”) and both of whom he has seemingly (unintentionally, one hopes) smeared in an effort to distract people from the reality of Palin’s corruption. Our hearts go out to Mr Flein, who must be kept super busy keeping reality at bay for his client.
You might recognize Linda Biegel from the Palin camps constant accusations that “Obama operatives” are out to get her. In Palin world, the fact that Ms. Beigel’s blog was chosen to represent Alaska at the 2008 Democratic convention means that Ms Biegel is an “Obama operative”.
The number of people Palin is paranoid about just keep piling up – apparently, she believes that pretty much anyone who questions her is out to get her. It might behoove Mr Van Flein to remind his client that she was a governor in a democratic republic, wherein the citizens are encouraged to question their representatives.
Citizens of the U.S. can and should participate in their government, as this process insures that power will always remain where it belongs – with the people. Doing one’s duty as a citizen should not subject one to harassment, smears, or name-calling from elected officials who have substantially more power than the citizen.
At any rate, Ms Biegel is not a “Democrat” operative nor an “Obama operative”. According to Ms. Biegel (who has not been caught in any lies that I’m aware of, in stark contrast to Palin), she has never been paid by either the Democrats or Obama for any purpose.
She is an active progressive with a blog. One might say, she’s a community organizer of sorts. Sigh. We know the utter contempt Ms Palin has for community organizers (sorry, Jesus; you’re taking one here, too). Ms Biegel is an involved citizen in her state government.
She was doing her duty as a citizen of a democracy to hold her representatives accountable and demand transparency; while on the other hand, Ms Palin was not doing her duty as governor in many respects, and most certainly not when she quit to pursue “progressin’ Alaska” via a national book tour.
Ms Palin may need a refresher course on democracy and the American government. We do things differently than they do in a monarchy or in the Alaska Independence Party. Just sayin’.
So here we have a gathering of Mr Van Flein, Ms Biegel, and Gryphen. For lunch. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
Of course, Ms Biegel, filer of one ethics complaint against Ms Palin, wanted to know why Mr Van Flein and his client keep pushing the factually inaccurate statement, via press statements and other public speaking engagements (including Palin’s “book”), that Palin has been dismissed of all 15 of the “frivolous” ethics complaints, especially when he knows it’s not true.
Mr Van Flein explained what he meant when he and Palin say that she has had all ethics complaints dismissed! Yes, hear it now, my fellow evil opposition researchers!! Here it is:
“His response was mostly what I expected…that if we notice the wording of his responses, they are “factually accurate”.
In other words, he carefully crafted a statement that would give the appearance of Palin’s having been exonerated, when in fact he knew that to be untrue; perhaps merely the work of a good lawyer, representing someone who chooses to parse words rather than take responsibility for her unethical behavior. But it certainly doesn’t speak well for Palin’s claimed “honesty” and “openness” and “reformer” image.
Ms Biegel goes on to write that his recent “press release” via Palin’s Facebook page is an inaccurate statement. He wrote:
“The Ethos of Ethics
When the Governor announced her decision to resign on July 3, she pointed out the then 15 frivolous ethics complaints that had been filed against her and dismissed.”
Ms. Biegel notes, “In other words, no matter what the actual impression his words gave people, he stated he was covered because he didn’t “technically” lie.”
Ah, yes. Didn’t technically lie.
The duplicity of this is made even worse by the fact that this statement was made in a diatribe against Alaskan citizens who file ethics complaints and was a rather condescending lecture about ethics, implying that the filers of said complaints were partisan operatives abusing the ethics laws! Who’s abusing the ethics laws? Maybe the person found guilty of abusing them? Naw.
His “technically accurate” statement reads:
“When the Governor announced her decision to resign on July 3, she pointed out the then 15 frivolous ethics complaints that had been filed against her and dismissed.”
Let’s break it down:
“She pointed out the then 15 frivolous ( ok, “frivolous” is an inaccurate adjective already proven false by the ethics board ) ethics complaints that had been filed ( accurate in the sense that it’s true that complaints were filed ) against her ( correct ) and dismissed ( is he suggesting that the “and dismissed” is not describing the subject “ethics complaints”? ).
I’ll give him points for effort, but this isn’t flying as “technically not a lie”, unless Mr Van Flein also suffers from Palinese Logorrhea and is incapable of writing decipherable English. Mr Van Flein seems a bit too smart for that, though.
The problem is that even the carefully crafted statement is inaccurate and misleading. Van Flein must be admitting that he’s carefully parsing words when he says all 15 ethics charges against Sarah Palin have been dismissed.
In reality, several have been settled; Palin paying fines to avoid being found guilty, an arrangement akin to a plea bargain and several have been found against her; Troopergate, in which she was found guilty of abusing her power and Alaska Fund Trust Gate, in which a determination letter found she was abusing her power by using her Governorship to make money and was warned to stop collecting money from her followers via the “AFT” , which she refused to do. No actions have yet been taken against her for her refusal to abide by the recommendation. At least two complaints are still pending.
Which is sort of like all being “dismissed”….only not.
“Mr. Van Flein justifies his words by saying she was just referring to the complaints that were dismissed up to that point.”
Oh, so the statement was not about all of the ethics complaints, just those 15 that had been dismissed. And they just left out the other ones, in a manner which leaves the reader believing that she has been exonerated of all of them. Any of them that have been put in front of her, there. Also, too.
The problem here is that due to the ethics laws, Alaskans have no way of knowing how many complaints have been filed against her. The ADN did a count at one point which listed 18 (http://www.adn.com/palin/story/838912.html), but there may have been more they were unaware of. and as Mr Van Flein is well aware, the public does not know that there were at least 18 ethics charges filed against her.
At any rate, a lie of omission is still a lie. At least that’s what my Grandpa taught me. Now, what’s this about Van Flein lecturing the masses about ethics? Cherry picked ethics, I can only assume.
Mr Van Flein seems to be suggesting that it’s OK for a Governor to intentionally mislead the public about their record. Hmm. How is that open and transparent on the part of the public official?
In other words, he parsed words in order to misrepresent the truth to the world, had full knowledge of reality but chose to craft a statement intended to shield Palin from the consequences of her actions in the realm of public opinion.
Good lawyering, perhaps, but this does not reflect well upon Ms. Palin, whose seeming allergy to the truth is becoming a national embarrassment. I hear Mr Van Flein is paid well for his representation, and can only conclude that Ms Palin has made full use of his services in a transparent effort to mislead the public and hide like a coward from the truth.
This kind of lie of omission is an excellent example of Palin’s “Christian values”; She is entitled to rule without question or accountability because she has been chosen by God, anointed Queen Esther by her witch-doctor. She joins Sanford and others in believing that ethics and honesty are for the little guys.
The media apparently share her vision of herself as Untouchable and anointed by God, as they cut a wide path around reality in order to accommodate Ms Palin’s version of it.
Meanwhile, she’s selling herself as an honest politician. One of the most common reasons her followers give for supporting her is that she’s “honest”.
Cue Sarah Palin riding in with a new definition of “honest”, one sure to martyr herself and blame everyone in the entire country for her failures, while she continues to take no responsibility for her actions.
John McCain, this is your legacy.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.