John Burns is the Attorney General of Alaska. He was appointed by Sean Parnell, who became Governor when Sarah Palin resigned.
The appointment of Mr. Burns occurred in November of 2010 after Sean Parnell was elected in the 2010 race. Mr. Burns is an “avid sport fisherman and has spent many seasons commercial fishing in Bristol Bay. “ I wonder if he and Todd shared a beer together while fishing in Bristol Bay? Mr. Burns as the Attorney General is the appropriate person with whom an Ethics Complaint should be filed. In June of this year I filed such a complaint with the Alaska Attorney General. Given my background as an attorney, I assumed that Mr. Burns, in spite of any bias he might have, would be forced to conduct an investigation into the ethics complaint. I was wrong. Once again I have come to realize that Sarah Palin appears to be above the law. This is a perfect example of the control and influence Sarah Palin has in Alaska, even after she abandoned her job as Governor.
Here is a copy of the Ethics Complaint I filed.
June 2, 2011
Re: Ethics Violation under AS 39.52.180 (Restrictions on Employment After Leaving State Service) of Sarah Palin
Dear Mr. Burns:
As you know AS 39.52.180 provides:
“A public officer who leaves state service may not, for two years after leaving state service, represent, advise, or assist a person for compensation regarding a matter that was under consideration by the administrative unit served by that public officer, and in which the officer participated personally and substantially through the exercise of official action. For the purposes of this subsection, “matter” includes…proposal or consideration of a legislative bill,….or other legislative measures, …”
This statute specifically applies to the position of the (d) (1) “governor”.
Sarah Palin served as the Governor of Alaska before she resigned in July 2009. As the ex-Governor, she is one of the persons specifically identified as subject to this ethics provision.
During the time Governor Palin served as Governor, she participated personally and substantially in the consideration of a law passed to provide a tax credit for films made in Alaska, with Alaskan residents participating in the film. That law is known as AS_44.33.236 and Sarah Palin signed the bill into law during 2007-2008 as part of the laws passed by the 25th legislature of Alaska, which was http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill_text.asp?hsid=SB0230A&session=25 before she resigned as Governor. Thus the matter of a tax credit was a law that was “specifically under consideration” while she was Governor, and it was her official action that caused the bill to become law when she approved the law by signing the bill.
Within one year of resigning from the position as Governor, Sarah Palin represented, advised, and assisted TLC and Jean Worldwide Inc. in the making of the film “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” That corporation applied for and received a tax credit of $1.2 million dollars which was a percentage of their expenses incurred in making the film. A portion of those expenses included the fees paid to Sarah Palin of $2,000,000. Thus Sarah Palin received substantial compensation regarding a matter that was under consideration during her term as Governor. Not only is this a violation of 39.52.180, but the award of this tax credit was inappropriate as a result of the express provisions of AS 44.33.236 Sarah Palin’s Alaska constituted a political advertisement as illustrated by the 23 comments made by Palin during the show:
1. “You can see Russia from here- almost.”
2. Todd Palin comments about Joe McGinnis, the author living next to the Palins: “These people want to seek and destroy.”
3. Sarah Palin describes the 14 foot fence erected to create a barrier between the Palin family and Joe McGinnis and then adds: “This is a good example of what we need to do to secure our nation’s borders.”
4. In a discussion of Taxes, Sarah asks Todd to explain that the rate of taxes would determine the number of new employees he could afford to hire.
5. Repeatedly Sarah Palin uses the phrase, “Don’t Retreat, Reload.”
6. Sarah commented that she loves to tell the story about having her baby shower at the shooting range as “it gets the liberals all wee weed up.”
7. There were repeated references to stories in the “tabloids” regarding her family. The National Enquirer was mentioned by name at least three times.
8. With regard to Trig, she said “I wouldn’t trade this child or our situation for anything in the world.”
9. On the hunting adventure Sarah’s dad explained that Sarah “carries her own weight when hunting, fishing, and in politics.”
10. Sarah is described as a “mama grizzley.”
11. Sarah offers a quote from Ted Nugent after killing a caribou. Ted Nugent is the person who wrote the article on Sarah for Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people.
12. The woman Sarah met in the remote location where they landed to begin the hunting trip explained that Sarah had affected her life as the Governor of Alaska.
13. Palin mentioned the need to get out into the wilderness for her children because of the “brutality” in the political arena.
14. Kate Gosselin explained that she admired Palin because she was a strong woman who didn’t back down.
15. Palin features guns in multiple episodes. She explained that some people are politically “anti-gun.”
16. Palin is featured making s’mores, and comments that this is done in “honor of Michele Obama.” In case the comments were not audible, the words appear at the bottom of the screen to emphasize their importance.
17. Palin offers the statistic that 85-90 % of Down’s syndrome children are aborted. She explains that “they have their opinion, and we have ours.”
18. Palin says that “idiots and bloggers do not like our family.”
19. Palin comments that when she was Governor, people condemned her because she always had kids at her side.
20. Palin volunteers her explanation of her use of the word “refudiate” by explaining that she accidentally pushed a “F” instead of a “D” on her blackberry.
21. Palin uses the phrase “make lemonade out of lemons” which became controversial as a result of Sharon Angle’s comment regarding what a woman should do who had been raped. Palin endorsed Angle.
22. Palin makes a derogatory comment about conservationists suggesting that they shouldn’t be critical of the deforestation in Alaska, because… after all they use pencils and paper.
23. Palin criticized environmentalists for their opposition to logging and deforestation. She made derogatory remarks about the people who complain about deforestation by asking if they knew where their paper and pencils come from. Clearly Palin was making a political point that “environmentalists” were wrong. Regardless of your political position regarding deforestation, this was clearly a political commentary.
Each of these comments reveals the political agenda of Sarah Palin. Each is proof of the fact that the TLC show, and the DVD, constituted a political advertisement. Obviously Palin has the right to make political advertisements, and TLC has the right to promote Palin if they chose to do so. The outrageous thing is that Palin and TLC caused the taxpayers of Alaska to fund this political advertisement within two years of her resignation, and after she signed into law the very statute that caused Alaskan tax payers to fund this political advertisement. Moreover, Sarah Palin has admitted on national television that this show was political. http://palingates.blogspot.com/2010/11/sarah-palin-admits-that-she-sends-out.html.
The award of this tax credit was inappropriate as the film was detrimental to the people of Alaska. Here are three specific examples of the ways in which the television show and DVD were detrimental to the people of Alaska:
1. TEEN PREGNANCY
Bristol Palin made national headlines when it was disclosed that she was the unwed pregnant teenage daughter of Sarah Palin. She and her Son, Tripp were featured on the TLC show demonstrating an extremely comfortable life style, complete with travel in a luxury RV, and Bristol going on adventures without the challenge of caring for a young child. As early as January of 2009 the Center for Disease Prevention reported that teen births increased by 3 percent nationally in 2006, reversing a 15-year decline. Alaska was the number one state in increase in teen births with a 19 percent increase in the teenage birthrate from the previous year.
• Teen pregnancy accounts for more than $9 billion per year in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers.4
• Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school drop out rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22, versus nearly 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.5
• The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.6
Alaskans should be particularly concerned about the increasing rise in teen pregnancy rates as Alaska has had increases in teen pregnancy rate in each year since 2006.
In Alaska, the public cost associated with teen childbearing is conservatively estimated to be $32 million in 2004, half paid by the federal government and half by the state. This estimate captures net costs – those costs over and above what would have been incurred if a person with similar characteristics to the teen mother delayed childbearing until age 20 or 21.
In several episodes of the TLC show Sarah Palin indicated that kids should be allowed to eat whatever they wanted. This was a direct attack on the Let’s Move Campaign initiated by Michele Obama. She has said that the government should “get off our back” and that Americans have the “God Given Right” to be fat. While birthday cakes and baking cupcakes were included in the show, and one might argue that this was not intended to be a commentary on people’s right to be fat, the scene regarding the s’mores was clearly targeted to be both a political commentary and detrimental to the people of Alaska. When the ingredients for the s’mores were being taken out of the cabinet, a comment was made that this was being done “in honor of Michele Obama”. In case the audio was not clear those words appeared at the bottom of the screen.
In case there might still be any question in your mind as to how this negatively affects kids in Alaska you should know that 11% of Alaskan high school students are obese, 36% of K-12th grade students in the Anchorage School District (ASD) are above a normal weight. In the state of Alaska, 27% of high school students are overweight or obese and one-third (33%) of children entering kindergarten in Alaska’s largest school district are above a normal weight. Obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese adults and to develop chronic diseases. Almost 40% of obese children already have at least two cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol. In most cases, as these children age,their health risks will increase in number and severity. Childhood obesity is a public health problem in Alaska. Any film that promotes unhealthy eating for children, or that is a direct attack on the Let’s Move campaign would be per se detrimental to the people of Alaska.
3. CAR SEATS
Accidents are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.Automobile accidents account for the largest number of these accidents. Use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts use are critical to limiting these deaths. State Farm is the largest insurer of autos in Alaska and in the nation.State Farm has raised its car insurance rates in Alaska due to an increase in automobile accidents. State Farm explains that “car crashes are the leading cause of death and injury to children, but using car-seats appropriately can greatly reduce the risk.
As the Attorney General of Alaska I’m sure you know that Alaska law prohibits a driver from transporting children under age 16 in a motor vehicle unless the child is properly secured according to child passenger safety law. Alaskan law provides specific guidelines for children based upon their weight and age. The Palin family repeatedly appeared in the TLC show with children riding in a motor vehicle who were unrestrained by seat belts or car seats. Sarah Palin even appeared in the passenger front seat without wearing a seat belt.
As a result “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” failed to meet the criterion for qualification for the tax credit. Sarah Palin was paid $2,000,000 for her involvement in the making of the film, http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-03-25/palins-alaska-pay-day/?cid=hp:vertical:l#. The resulting tax credit awarded to Jean Worldwide, within the two years after Sarah Palin’s resignation of approximately $800,000 was improper and unethical pursuant to AS 44.33.236, and AS 39.52.180. This constitutes a blatant violation of the statutes and is the very type of situation that the statutes were designed to prohibit.
The improper award of this tax credit for the making of Sarah Palin’s Alaska was brought to the attention of the Dave Worrell of the film office and to the supervisor of the Economic Division, and I was advised in an e-mail that the award of the tax credit was appropriate. I have attached a copy of that e-mail for your file.
The intent of AS 39.52.180 was clearly to prevent even the appearance of impropriety within the Executive Branch. Sarah Palin has herself admitted that during her tenure as Governor that she signed this legislation and it became law. In her own Facebook post, which is also attached, Ex-Governor Palin is responding to complaints based on the appearance of impropriety. Governor Palin is clearly in violation of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
My understanding is that this Ethics Complaint is to be kept confidential, and I have not disclosed anything regarding this complaint at this time. Please advise me when it would be appropriate for me to publish this letter. In addition if there is any technical problem with this complaint, please advise me and I will correct it immediately.
Thank you for your consideration of this complaint.
Each of these news agencies knew about the law Palin approved during her short term as Governor, which was known as AS 44.33.236 , and which allowed a tax credit. What the reporters didn’t know was that Alaska had a specific section of its Code of Ethics, AS 39.52.180, that expressly prohibited the Ex-Governor, from receiving compensation for any “matter” that was under consideration during her term as Governor. By signing AS 44.33.236 Sarah Palin enacted a law that allowed production companies like Jean Worldwide to benefit from Tax Credits, at the expense of Alaskan tax payers, by making a film in Alaska. If the person starring in the film was a resident, additional tax credit could be received by the production company for salary paid to the Alaskan resident. Under AS 39.52.180 Sarah Palin should not have received compensation as a result of the making of a film which took advantage of the tax credit law she signed into law, if that film was made during the two years following her resignation as Governor. Sarah Palin’s Alaska was made one year after Palin’s resignation. Palin received $2,000,000 in compensation for the making of that film. She was the star of the film, and the Executive Producer.
In a letter I received yesterday dated July 29, 2011 Mr. Burns notified me of the dismissal of the complaint because, he said, “the allegations in your complaint, if true, do not constitute a violation of As 39.52.180 (a). This letter was posted here. I learned that the letter was available on line due to a post by Palin’s attorney at conservatives4Palin.
The reason for the dismissal of the complaint is set forth in Mr. Burns letter. His position is that the legislation signed by Governor Palin was not a “matter” under AS 39.52.180. The absurdity of this position is that “matter” is EXPRESSLY DEFINED as a “legislative measure, or proposal.” To make matters worse, Mr. Burns explains that in 2007 the “legislature amended the definition to include, rather than exclude, work on legislation.” By INCLUDING “work on legislation” the statute unequivocally contemplates and applies to this law signed by Sarah Palin, and which benefited her personally a year after she resigned, to the tune of $2,000,000.00.
By saying that the legislation allowing the film tax credit was not a “legislative measure” is like saying Sarah Palin was “Undefeated” even though she was defeated in her campaign for Lt. Governor, and she and John McCain were defeated in the 2008 election. When Sarah Palin says she is the champion of ethics reform, she must mean that the ethics rules in Alaska were reformed to exclude her. When Palin was found to have violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act (the same ethics act made the basis of this complaint) a bipartisan committee found:
“Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: To get Trooper Michael Wooten fired,” he said.
Yet Sarah Palin claimed that she was vindicated and that the committee DID NOT find her to be in violation of the Code of Ethics.
What is particularly offensive about this ethics violation is that the film Sarah Palin’s Alaska should never have qualified for the Tax Credit. Both because it was political in nature, and because it was detrimental to the people of Alaska, the film tax should never have been approved. Even more offensive is that Palin appears to be planning on taking advantage of the tax credit legislation in another “reality” show called “Big Hair Alaska.” Bristol is following her mother’s lead and making her own reality show, at the expense of the Alaskan taxpayers.
When Sarah Palin says the Government should “get out of the way” she must mean that the government should step aside after she and her family have reaped all the financial rewards from the government that they can. She complains about the government paying benefits to people dependent on social security, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. However when this millionaire makes additional millions, based on tax credit legislation, she enacted, she is glad for the government to stand in her way until she cashes her check.