Investigator: Palin broke ethics law with legal fund requests

Gov. Sarah Palin appears to have broken state ethics law by asking people to donate money to a trust set up to pay her legal bills, an investigator hired by the state found.

"In light of the evidence that the governor expressly authorized the creation of the trust and the fact the trust website quite openly uses the governor's position to solicit donations, there is probable cause to believe that Governor Palin used, or attempted to use, her official position for personal gain in violation of Alaska statute," Anchorage attorney Tom Daniel wrote in his report.

Daniel recommended that Palin refuse to take the money raised by her legal defense fund, called the Alaska Fund Trust. But he was also sympathetic toward Palin for the personal legal bills she's accumulated defending herself against ethics complaints. Daniel suggested the Legislature consider changing the law so the state would pay in cases where complaints are tossed out.

"It may seem unfair to require the governor to hire a personal lawyer to defend against actions that arise from the fact that she is a public official, and at the same time, prohibit her from forming a private legal defense fund to help pay for the expense," he wrote.

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