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Archive for July 22nd, 2009

AK Fund Trust Legal and Ethical. No Money Disbursed.

Posted by Ron Devito on July 22, 2009

Press Release

Kristan Cole, Trustee
The Alaska Fund Trust
July 22, 2009

Thank you for being here today. My name is Kristan Cole, Trustee to the
Alaska Fund Trust. And this is the Trust’s attorney in Alaska, Jon Givens.

I am here to address the unusual letter that was leaked yesterday, the
contents of which are unprecedented in the history of our country,
suggesting that a legal defense fund could somehow be unethical. This is
particularly notable, and concerning, in light of the fact that the Trust,
on my instructions, has not paid even one penny to Gov.. Palin or her
lawyers. I issued that instruction because I was aware the Board was
reviewing this matter.

This Trust was created by a team of expert lawyers from around the country.
It was thoroughly vetted for compliance with federal and state law and trust
law. So far Mr. Daniel is the only lawyer in the country who has questioned
a legal defense fund despite the fact that his firm has set up legal defense
funds for other office holders. Because his initial review was unprecedented
and contained factual errors it was my understanding that Gov. Palin’s legal
team, including Mr. Van Flein, were in on-going discussions with Mr. Daniel.
The matter was not final.

I want to be clear on a point that has been misrepresented: The Governor is
not and was not involved with the Trust. The Governor has never worked on or
with the Trust. The Governor has not even accepted or requested one penny
from the Trust or quite frankly anything of me. And I have never expected
anything from her. Really it’s quite the contrary; as I, and many other
caring folks across the country have only sought to help with this legal

The first and only time I have spoken with the Governor about the Trust was
yesterday to alert her that I was responding to this violation of the law
and leak of preliminary and confidential materials from the complainant.

There is a loophole in Alaska law. Alaskans can file frivolous complaints
against the Governor – violate the law and alert the media they are doing
so, all the complaints can be dismissed and yet the Governor has to
personally pay for representation. Legislators covered themselves with a law
that warrants automatic dismissal of a complaint if it is leaked to the

It has been quite obvious to me, and to other every day citizens like me,
that over the last several months that something needed to be done to help
the Palins with the overwhelming crush of frivolous ethics complaints.

In their own humble way, the Palins never asked for help. The Governor
never even asked anyone to contribute to this legal expense fund. This
trust, and the thousands and thousands of dollars raised, were the results
of hard working Americans and their outpouring of support. It is
disgraceful that anyone would assume that the thousands of people who sent
in $5, $10 or $50 intended to “influence” the governor’s official actions in
Alaska! And this in a state where a half dozen legislators have been
convicted of corruption as well as the previous governor’s chief of staff.
Not one ethics complaint was filed against these individuals who were
convicted, but this governor is harassed for having her picture taken with a
fish, wearing a jacket, answering press questions and giving a speech.

A few select people have abused our ethics act. The public release of a
preliminary document in violation of state law follows that pattern. The
people of this state are losing hope that the ethics act has any real
purpose anymore and that’s incredibly sad as ethics are so important. Mr.
Daniel’s preliminary assessment, unprecedented in history and harshly
criticized by legal scholars, does nothing to restore credibility to this

Numerous individuals thought to help the Palins – not just me. But when I
was asked, I was doing research of my own and determined that I would put my
name on a Trust already going through an intense legal process throughout
the country to ensure that this one was airtight and complied with every
possible law under the sun. And this one does. It is one of the most
restrictive and transparent trusts of its kind. The validity of the Trust
is strong. It is unprecedented in every way imaginable… all donations must
be under $150, no donations from lobbyists, and nothing accepted from
foreign nationals to name a few. No trust has ever been found to be a
violation of ethical standards for any governor, former president, senator,
or house member, or former member of Congress. But this Trust which has more
severe donation and donor limits than any trust in the history of legal
defense trusts might violate ethical rules?

Some Trust funds are formed and accepted to defend politicians in true
Courts of Law with regard to some very serious criminal charges. And yet,
this Fund was created by others to help the Palins pay for their legal bills
due to frivolous complaints – each of which has been dismissed thus far. I
will let my attorney speak to the legal issues but I wanted to take this
opportunity to speak to yesterday’s blatant violation of the law.

You know, we have witnessed time and again the blatant abuse of process when
it comes to people filing these complaints and illegally discussing them and
leaking them to the press- but this latest move further crosses the line and
we are all reviewing action for the reputational harm caused by Ms. Chatman
based upon the leak of Tom Daniel’s preliminary thinking on the matter – a
product that may have ultimately been remarkably different and perhaps even
dismissed. Where is the accountability for those who blatantly disregard
the requirement to keep the issue confidential?

There are many questions which need to be asked following my read of what
was leaked.

And, if I may digress – this is how backwards our laws are – I had to go
online and read the preliminary letter about the Trust and me because Mr.
Daniel and Mr. Van Flein cannot violate the confidentiality of the Ethics
Act (even though it appears the complainant has)and therefore cannot even
forward the preliminary letter to me. Now that I have read it, I still hope
to inform Mr. Daniel of the important information that Mr. Van Flein had
requested from me to be shared with Mr. Daniel.

What was the reason for my involvement? The preliminary letter suggests that
perhaps I served as Trustee so I could get some job with the state. This is
amazingly wrong and so incredibly hurtful. That is the last thing I want. I
did this because it believed it was the right thing to do for our Governor.
I love Alaska. I have lived here 40 years and I have always served the
state when asked – and despite the fact that I am entitled to public monies
in the form of expenses, per diem and wages – I have declined every single
penny. I have served as a volunteer on others boards, and commissions (The
Real Estate Commission and the Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund Board) under
a previous Governor so volunteer work has been part of my life for a long
time. I was approached to serve as Trustee for the legal defense fund. I did
not seek out this position just as I have never sought out any other
position but was willing to step up to the plate and serve when asked
because that’s what we all do when asked to serve our country, our state and
our communities isn’t it? We do it because it’s the right thing to do and
by all of us serving where we can, we all benefit. My sons and my husband
have served our country. I have served our state and our community here in
the Mat Su Valley with the hope that we are making a difference where we

So how unfair is it that the Governor can be told she was wrong for putting
together the Fund, soliciting Funds, accepting the Funds and spending the
Funds when she hasn’t been involved at all—-And no money has been spent on
her legal defense?

If the Governor only accrued the bills because she is a public figure then
why is it wrong for a Trust to collect funds to defend her as a public
figure? Alaska law specifically states that there is only a problem if there
is “intent” to influence the Governor. How can there be intent to influence
a Governor in Alaska with a $5 voluntary donation from Kansas? To date,
approximately 90% of the contributions are from Outside Alaska and many are
$5, $10 and $20 donations. Not one penny has been paid to any law firm or
entity for the Governor’s financial gain. If the Governor has not solicited
or accepted personal gain, how can she be in violation of soliciting and
accepting monies for personal gain?

Let’s review what has been deemed lawful. Creation of the PAC and
fundraising was deemed lawful. Writing a book was deemed lawful. All other
legal defense funds similar, but not as restrictive as this one, have been
deemed to be lawful. The very firm who put together Senator Kerry’s legal
defense fund which was deemed lawful was put together by the very law firm
that Mr. Daniel is employed by. These are inconsistent conclusions and defy
common sense. That is why this matter was not final and Mr. Daniel and Mr.
Van Flein were discussing these issues.

Potential future gain, based upon no active solicitations, in one of the
most stringent legal expense funds in the country does not merit a situation
much less a violation. Mr. Daniel says that because the Trust was an
“official” Trust he felt it violated the law. This overlooks the necessity
of having one “official” fund. The unofficial funds are the very ones that
had the potential to harm the public by unscrupulous people.

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