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'Nachogate' resolved: Nothing wrong with Bristol's night out

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Cancel that bulk order of "Free Bristol" T-shirts. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has concluded there was nothing illegal about Bristol Palin's appearance at Rum Runners Old Towne Bar and Grill last month.

The ABC Board looked into the event after receiving citizen complaints about Bristol's visit to Rum Runners with her "Dancing With the Stars" partner, professional dancer and musician Mark Ballas. As part of the investigation, local news outlets -- including Alaska Dispatch -- were asked to provide an ABC Board investigator with copies of raw video shot at the event. As we mentioned, we declined to participate in the investigation.

Incidentally, lots of websites that reported on our report claimed the ABC Board was investigating Bristol herself. Not so. We're writers, not lawyers, but as we understand it, the ABC Board is a "regulatory and quasi-judicial" entity that handles licensing and other administrative concerns (such as consequences for businesses that violate alcohol regulations), not a law enforcement agency. As far as we know, only the Anchorage Police Department has the authority to cite minors for possessing or consuming alcohol, and frankly, we think APD probably has too much on its plate to worry about whether a 19-year-old sat in a bar and ate nachos. We're pretty sure any repercussions arising for Bristol out of the ABC Board's investigation would have been of a public relations nature, not legal.

Law talk aside, we're happy we can all put this behind us and get back to following Bristol's progress on "Dancing With the Stars." Last week she narrowly escaped elimination after returning low scores for her foxtrot, so we're hoping to see her bounce back with renewed passion on Monday.

Here's the statement from the Department of Public Safety exonerating Rum Runners:

As a result of several citizen complaints that Rumrunners Old Towne Bar & Grill had allowed an underage female to remain on its liquor licensed premises for purposes other than dining, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board conducted an investigation to determine whether or not Rumrunners had violated conditions of its Restaurant Designation Permit which is issued by the ABC Board.

The investigation revealed that on September 23, 2010 19 year-old Bristol Palin was on the premises as a promotional opportunity for both Rumrunners and the nationally televised dance program, "Dancing with the Stars." Ms. Palin was accompanied by her guardian and chaperone, Ivy Frye. Rumrunners has a valid Restaurant Designation Permit that allows persons under the age of 21 to dine if unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.