ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin has paid more than $8,100 to reimburse Alaska for the costs associated with nine trips taken with her children.
Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, says the governor paid $8,143.62 to the state on June 19 for the nine trips, some with more than one of her five children, taken between January 2007 and February of this year. The payment was due Tuesday.
An ethics complaint had alleged Palin abused her power by charging the state when her children traveled with her. The Alaska Personnel Board found no wrongdoing, but Palin agreed to reimburse the state for trips found to be of questionable state interest.
Van Flein and state administrative director Linda Perez sent The Associated Press copies of the check and other documents of the transaction.
The board's investigator, Timothy Petumenos, said in his report that state rules give little guidance to determine ethical standards for travel by the governor's family. But he interpreted the law to require that the state pay only if the first family serves an important state interest.
Rules 'changed in midstream '
Van Flein noted that Palin had followed historical practices on first family travel and that her travel requests were processed by the same administrators who processed requests for predecessors, Frank Murkowski and Tony Knowles.
"No one challenged Gov. Murkowski's or Governor Knowles' travel practices," Van Flein said in an e-mail. "The rules were, and are, being changed in midstream for Governor Palin. However, as noted in the agreement at the time 'the Governor wants to exceed minimum legal standards.'"
Video: Palin – eye on the White House? Anchorage resident Frank Gwartney, a Democrat, filed the complaint in late October. It closely followed a report by The Associated Press that Palin charged the state more than $21,000 for her three daughters' commercial flights, including events where they weren't invited, and later ordered their expense forms amended to specify official state business.
Palin was the Republican vice presidential candidate when the complaint was filed and after the February settlement she called the grievance "an obvious political weapon."
As part of the settlement, the Alaska Department of Law was asked to develop specific rules clarifying when the state should pay for a governor's family travel. That effort is under way, with the goal to have a final draft by the end of the year, according to Judy Bockmon, an assistant attorney general.
Also on Tuesday, the governor's office announced the 15th dismissal of an ethics complaint against Palin or one of her staff. It alleged Kris Perry — director of the governor's Anchorage office — worked on state time to benefit Palin's interests during and after her vice presidential run.
'This is pure harassment'
The governor's office said the complaint was filed even after Perry obtained an opinion from Perez, her ethics supervisor.
"It is outrageous to file an ethics complaint against a state employee who sought and obtained ethics guidance in advance," Mike Nizich, Palin's chief of staff, said in a statement. "This is not about ethics. This is not about holding the governor or state employees accountable. This is pure harassment."
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