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September 2, 2008 5:04 PM

ELECTION 2008: Two Alaska Lawyers Face Off in Sarah Palin Ethics Investigation

Posted by Rachel Breitman

Facing an ongoing ethics investigation, newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will be represented by an Anchorage attorney paid with state funds, the Alaska state legislature announced Monday.

Palin's new counsel, Thomas Van Flein, a partner in the Anchorage firm Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness, was brought in by the state's law department because Attorney General Talis Colberg has a conflict of interest that prevents him from representing Palin. Van Flein will be paid $185 an hour to represent Palin and others in the governor's office, up to $95,000, according to an Anchorage Daily News story

On Monday the legislature's investigative committee released an e-mail it received from Van Flein on August 29. In that message, Van Flein, who was hired by the legislature August 21, wrote, "We fully welcome a fair inquiry into these allegations," a reference to Palin's July 11 firing of Alaska public safety commissioner Walter Monegan. The legislative committee is probing whether Monegan was forced out of his job because he refused to fire a state trooper enmeshed in an ugly divorce squabble and child-custody dispute with Palin's sister. "Please know that we intend to cooperate with this investigation," Van Flein wrote.

On July 28, the state legislative counsel, a bipartisan panel of senators and representatives, approved $100,000 for the investigation and hired Stephen Branchflower, a former Anchorage prosecutor, to lead the probe. Senator Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat and former state prosecutor, directed Branchflower not to comply with Van Flein's request for copies of all witness statements and documentary evidence. Van Flein, meanwhile, has argued that the investigation should be shifted to the state's personnel review board from the Republican-dominated legislature.

Van Flein, an Alaska defense lawyer who has represented dentists and medical doctors in state licensing matters, donated $1,500 to Palin’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign. (Later that year a voter initiative capped donations in state races at $500.)

Branchflower, a 24-year veteran of the Anchorage district attorney's office, also directed the Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and later the Alaska Office of Victims’ Rights. His wife, Linda, worked in the Anchorage police department and as a state trooper.

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It amazes me how on the one hand the Republicans try to show the virtues of family, god, and country. Yet have a person who cannot show the same about her family. It also looks like she tried to get someone fired. The price of power.

Governor Sarah Palin is showing how Republicans care about family, God and country. Even though her daughter is inconveniently pregnant, she supports her daughter and welcomes her baby, demonstrating the sanctity of human life. Sarah is putting God's commandment not to kill and her family first. At the same time, she is setting a good example for her countrymen. Many less virtuous would quietly exterminate the baby and make the problem go away.

Governor Palin supports, quiet enthusiastically, our baseless war in Iraq. Jim, how do you think she reconciles this with God's commandment not to kill? And responding that she prays that God is on our side is not an answer. I've also wondered how a person who is pro-life can also be pro-death penalty.

I wonder about Governor Palin's commitment to the country when she was a fairly active member of the Alaska Independence party. This is a party that advocated seceding from the Union and whose leader advocated burning the U.S. flag. Much ado was made of Obama's decision to forgo the US flag lapel pin, yet the GOP nominates someone who once advocated seceding?

Palin's daughter's pregnancy and her stance on Iraq have nothing whatsoever to do with this investigation.

It seems that Palin never did a flip flop on the bridge to nowhere. she cancelled the project after federal funds were stopped and she didn't want Alaska to foot the whole bill. So her objection was the funding not the bridge

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