Complaint targets Palins' travel

TICKETS FOR KIDS: Personnel Board will review accusation.

October 30, 2008 

A new complaint accuses Gov. Sarah Palin of breaking state ethics rules by charging the state for her kids' airline tickets to various events.

Frank Gwartney, a retired electrical power lineman from Anchorage, filed the complaint with the attorney general Friday. The state Personnel Board -- which is currently investigating the governor's firing of her former public safety officer -- will review this accusation too.

"It's just such a blatant misuse of state money," Gwartney said Wednesday.

Palin's office says the state considers the kids' publicly funded travel as official First Family business and that Palin only takes her kids to events they're invited to.

The Washington Post and Daily News reported in early September that the state has spent tens of thousands of dollars on Palin family travel. The topic grabbed headlines again last week when The Associated Press reported that the state paid $21,000 for commercial flights for Palin's daughters.

Some event organizers were surprised to see the children arrive, or agreed to a request from the governor to allow them to attend, the AP reported.

Gwartney's complaint says Palin broke rules that forbid state officials from using their jobs for personal gain -- in this case buying tickets that she would otherwise have to pay for herself. It cites various news reports as evidence.

Palin, a Republican, is running for vice president. Gwartney is a registered Democrat and said he has donated to Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaignbut is not working for the Obama camp.

His complaint also criticizes the governor for amending travel records to say that family members were on official business while on the road.

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said the reports were amended to make them more accurate, not to mislead.

Assistant Attorney General Dave Jones said any pending ethics complaints are considered confidential and couldn't confirm the state had received the complaint. In general, he said, accusations against the governor are handled by the Personnel Board rather than by the Department of Law.

A McCain-Palin spokesman dismissed the complaint.

"This is a purely political stunt less than six days from the election that not only violates the law that requires Personnel Board complaints to be confidential, but raises serious questions about the motives of Mr. Gwartney, a stated Obama supporter," said campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin. "Governor Palin has always acted with the highest standards of ethics."

Another ethics complaint, filed in August by former state employee Andree McLeod, alleged the state circumvented hiring practices to help a Fairbanks Palin supporter get a job. In that case, Palin has said the state fixed a "glitch" that prevented an applicant from moving through the hiring process.

An investigator hired by state legislators reported on Oct. 10 that Palin abused her power in pressing for the firing of a state trooper who was once married to her sister but acted within her authority firing her former public safety commissioner.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service