Sarah Palin trotted out her lawyer late Saturday to refute charges appearing in various news media that she is allegedly under investigation for wrongdoing during her stint as Wasilla’s mayor.
Thomas van Flein of Anchorage law firm Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen, Thorsness, LLC issued a statement warning, “To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as ‘fact’ that Governor Palin resigned because she is ‘under federal investigation’ for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation.”
The entire press release is available here as a PDF file.
While an FBI spokesman in the Anchorage office denied that the agency was investigating her, it is investigating the construction firm that built the Wasilla Sports Complex and which, media reports alleged here and here , contributed cash to her political campaigns and, it’s alleged, material and labor to her under-construction home. More to the point, the criminal division of the Justice Dept. has its own investigators separate from the FBI, and it was the Department of Justice that refused to confirm or deny that Palin is under investigation.
So it is entirely possible the FBI is telling the truth – that it does not have her in its sights – but Justice Department investigators or the IRS might be conducting a probe. No one at Justice or Treasury was available for comment Sunday, in the middle of a long holiday weekend.
Huffington Post’s AKMuckraker writes this morning that Palin’s lawyer-led response is her typical modus operandi.
“Despite the fact that she specifically refers twice to the report as a “rumor,” Van Flein says she portrayed the story as fact. The only fact is that there are rumors. I know because I’ve been hearing them since last October. They even have a name – “Housegate.” If you Google “Palin Housegate,” you get 8,600 references, beginning with an article that appeared in the Village Voice.”
“I’m gonna sue your ass off!” is a common cry when someone thinks they can silence the news media – mainstream, alternative or internet.
But even if the rumors are totally unfounded, the fact is it’s nearly impossible for the media to defame a public figure the way the law is written: Palin would have to prove intent, something difficult to do in the best of circumstances, and reporting rumors about a governor didn’t constitute defamation the last time my lawyer’s checked.
Some of the best advice anyone ever gave me was “sleep on it, decide in the morning.” In other words, don’t do anything in a fit of picque.
Despite constant rumors about all kinds of things that fly around her like geese, it seems as if Sarah went postal after Moore’s blog was posted instead of sleeping on it. Rather than giving herself time to cool down, she hired a lawyer and started threatening people with defamation suits she can’t win and may end up having to pay the defendant’s costs to boot if legal papers ever get filed.
One of Palin’s many shortcomings during the presidential campaign was that she was seen as quick to shoot from the hip, sometimes making irrational statements contradicting what the head of her ticket and campaign headquarters were saying or doing.
This latest kerfluffle does nothing to make Palin seem any less erratic or goofy. It was as if she learned nothing between the Republican Convention and election night.
True, Palin may be endearing herself even more to her base of supporters – if many of them can read, let alone use the internet or Google. But for much of the GOP mainstream, if there is such a thing any longer, and independents who refused to vote for McCain-Palin in November, this latest episode is just one more reason to gag whenever they hear her name.
I’m sorry, Sarah, but you’ll never have the last word on this. So why don’t you sit down and shut up?