Ethics complaints against Gov. Sarah Palin and top members of her administration have cost the state personnel board nearly $300,000 over the past year, almost two-thirds of which appear to be from the Troopergate investigation of the governor.
That's according to new figures released by the personnel board, which described them as "independent counsel expenditures." The board hires private lawyers to investigate the complaints. The expenditures were released after the personnel board expressed frustration at the costs of the complaints. Palin has said the state is wasting money trying to resolve "frivolous" complaints against her.
The bulk of the expenses $187,797 appear to stem from Troopergate, the messy case involving Palin's former brother-in-law, a state trooper, who got on the wrong side with Palin and her family.
Palin herself initiated at least a part of the ethics case to counter a legislative investigation into the same matter. An additional Troopergate ethics complaint was brought by the state troopers union, which complained Palin and others improperly disclosed confidential personnel and workers' compensation records of her former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, and engaged in systematic efforts to have Wooten fired. The personnel board dismissed the union complaint.
The newly released expense list doesn't specify the nature of each case listed. It only provides internal case numbers followed by the total expenses incurred for each one of the cases. The board won't say which case numbers correspond with which complaint, or provide a detailed breakdown of the expenses. Under state law, ethics complaints are secret unless the subject of the complaint waives privacy.
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