Resignation of Sarah Palin
|This article is part of a series about
|Vice presidential candidacy
McCain–Palin campaign, 2008
Governorship of Alaska, 2006–2009
Early political career of Sarah Palin, 1992–2005
Reasons for the resignation
Palin announced she was resigning her office due to the costs and distractions of battling the ethics investigations launched against her, and described as “insane” the amount of time and money that both she and the state of Alaska had expended. She said the state had spent $2 million and she and her husband Todd would be spending "more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight." Other media sources backed Palin's statement that she had incurred large, personal financial debts defending against the ethics charges. The Anchorage Daily News reported that much of the $1.9 million cost cited by Palin consisted of the regular salaries of state employees who would have to be paid, regardless. However, the Governor's spokesperson said that in order to respond to the ethics complaints, staffers from multiple state agencies had had to set aside their normal duties, state lawyers had been pulled off other cases resulting in "lost value to the state", and "hundreds of thousands of dollars" had been spent on outside legal counsel and equipment. In addition to responding to the ethics complaints, the state attorneys had to review public records requests to determine what information to release; 238 requests were filed during the Palin administration, 189 of them after she was named as John McCain's running mate.
Palin also said she was resigning to avoid becoming a lame duck governor once it was known that she was not seeking a second term, stating "it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: 'Sit down and shut up,' but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out".
Palin declared that although she loved her job and it hurt to leave it, her decision was in the best interest of Alaska. She said that she expected to continue her involvement in public affairs as a private citizen, and that the lack of an official title would not bother her, nor would it hamper her effectiveness.
Palin officially stepped down as Alaska's governor on July 26, 2009. She delivered a fiery farewell address in which she admonished the media to leave the new governor's children alone.
Cost to taxpayers
According to the Anchorage Daily News, "Early estimates put the cost of Sarah Palin's midterm resignation as Alaska governor at a minimum of $40,000, not including a special legislative session partly linked to her departure. ... The final price tag will be a mere fraction of the roughly $2 million Palin has said it cost the state dealing with "frivolous" ethics complaints against her." Information on the cost of the resignation was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
Changes to Alaska's ethics rules
On December 22, 2010, new rules governing Alaska executive branch ethics, stemming from Sarah Palin's tenure as governor, took effect:
"These include allowing for the state to pay legal costs for officials cleared of ethics violations; allowing for a family member of the governor or lieutenant governor to travel at state cost in certain circumstances and allowing an immediate family member to use an official's state-issued cell phone or BlackBerry if the usage is limited or under monthly or unlimited plans."
The Alaska attorney general clarified several ethics rules, including those related to family travel.
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- Text of Sarah Palin's farewell speech, July 27, 2009, Huffington Post.