Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Palin financial disclosure may explain timing of her resignation

Sarah Palin's financial disclosure, which was publicly released this morning, may help explain the timing of her resignation as governor of Alaska. According to reporting by Sean Cockerham of McClatchy Newspapers, the former governor had to take out a loan to pay her attorneys for legal work in her defense from a series of bogus "ethics" complaints filed by her political enemies:
Palin is also reporting that she took out a home loan from Wells Fargo for "legal fees to fight false allegations while governor." She didn't give a date or amount.
One of the last of the complaints filed against Palin charges that the legal defense fund which was set up to pay Palin's legal bills is itself not legal under Alaska law. That complaint was filed with the knowledge that the fund would be frozen while it was being investigated, therefore forcing her to pay her lawyers out of her own pocket. The aim of her political opponents has always been to destroy Sarah Palin any way they can. So they staged an all-out assault not only on her character and her family, but on her personal finances as well. 

According to reports, the twenty or so complaints had driven Palin's legal bill over the $600,000 mark. That's a considerable sum of cash for a governor with an annual salary of $125,000 to lay her hands on, so she was forced to borrow the money. Wizbang's Jay Tea (h/t: C4P) explains:
"...she had run up about half a million dollars in legal bills, and pretty much every single complaint had been tossed. In other words, she had incurred debts equal to twice her family's net income and 40% of their net worth for absolutely nothing. And with the latest complaint going after her legal defense fund, it was shaping up to get more and more and more expensive, with no relief in sight. The agenda of her opponents was clear: to use Alaska's flawed ethics laws (the 'flaw' being that no one foresaw a cabal filing an endless chain of worthless complaints purely to drive up the target's legal bills) to bankrupt her and her family." 

"So she took what she saw as the only solution: she resigned. And once she decided that, she saw no reason to drag matters out."
The legal fees and the loan might also explain why Sarah Palin went to work immediately after resigning to write her book and get it finished in as short a period of time as possible. According to her financial disclosure,  she received $1.25 million from her publisher as a retainer for her memoir, which is due out next month. Book advances are usually paid half on signing and half on acceptance of the finished manuscript, with the agent usually taking at least 15% right off the top. If these were the terms of Sarah Palin's deal with HarperCollins, then after her agent --  Washington D.C. lawyer Bob Barnett -- took his cut, she received approximately $500,000 of her advance, which would not have been enough to pay her attorneys in full.

The former governor most certainly was feeling the pressure to complete her manuscript in order to receive the rest of the retainer from HarperCollins. Just speculation on our part, but Sarah Palin doesn't strike us as the type of person who wants to be beholden to anyone, so her goal was apparently to repay ASAP the loan she had to take out to pay her lawyers.

Some other details from her financial disclosure:
Palin reported that she received $73,000 in salary and $6,370 in per diem during those final months before resigning as governor.

Todd Palin reported receiving $34,086 during that time as a BP production operator. He also reported $32,260 from his commercial setnet fishing operation in Bristol Bay, under the business name "Toad's Fisheries."

Todd Palin also reported $3,500 in winnings from the Iron Dog snow machine race.
Now that she is no longer the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin will not be required to file any more financial disclosure reports with that state's Public Offices Commission.

- JP

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