Ethics Complaint No. 20 for Palin

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 15, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Governor Sarah Palin got another ethics complaint today. This is the 20th complaint against the governor. Many have been dismissed. The latest complaint alleges that Governor Palin abused her office by accepting a salary and using state staff while campaigning as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Well, did that happen, and is that a violation of Alaska's ethics rules?

Joining us live is Governor Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein. Thomas, did that happen, and is that a violation of the ethics rules in the state of Alaska?

THOMAS VAN FLEIN, ATTORNEY FOR SARAH PALIN: In my opinion, absolutely not. What really happened is the governor obviously went on the campaign trail. All expenses were paid while on the campaign by the campaign itself. So there's an end (ph) of the official travel documents in August 27th, and the complainant thinks that the governor went off duty on August 27th, and that's not true. The governor was completely in touch with her staff, brought a staff member with her, and that was subject of a separate complaint, which was thrown out, and the personnel board concluded it was very ethical and saved the state money to have a staff member with her.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I always like to compare the women to the men. Do you know if then Senator Obama or then Senator Biden did anything different in terms of how they handled their other jobs?

VAN FLEIN: I'm not aware that they did anything differently. They kept in touch with their staff members. They kept in touch with their advisers. They kept in touch, with their constituents. And Governor Palin did the same thing. She is totally linked in. She has with her always a BlackBerry, cell phone, and sometimes two BlackBerrys, one or two advisers and staff members. She's always reachable. And she's know for being a good communicator.

So to the extent that this complainant was saying she left the state and she was temporarily off duty, that's simply false. The governor was on duty 24/7 and conducting state business. When she wasn't actually giving a campaign speech or doing something else, like involved in the middle of a debate, she was conducting state business.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, do you know anything about the person filing the complaint? Has that person ever filed a complaint before or have any sort of motive or -- you know, what's her relationship or his relationship to this?

VAN FLEIN: The complainant here has filed a total of five, or one fifth of the complaints so far -- I'm sorry, one fourth of the complaints so far has been filed by this one individual. In addition, this individual has filed a lawsuit against the governor regarding certain documents and has filed multiple document requests or Freedom of Information Act type requests with the office of governor. So it's a very persistent critic of the governor who has caused a lot of this.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I noticed that in doing a little research tonight that Jack Cargill (ph), who's a member of the Republican Party, the same party as the governor, was critical of her. Is he agreeing with the complainant? And who's he?

VAN FLEIN: Well, he is an elder statesman here in the state of Alaska, and he was a member early on of the Alaskan Constitutional Convention, which was drafted in 1955. And he made a comment that he thought the governor should have turned over her to the lieutenant governor under Article 3, Section 9 of our state constitution, when she was on the campaign trail, which refers to, quote, "temporary absences."

What I did the other day is I went to the constitutional minutes, and I looked up the discussion of Article 3, Section 9, and it turns out that the discussion was about when the governor is incapacitated due to illness or coma or somehow not available. That is a temporary absence. And in 1955, we didn't have cell phones and we didn't have satellite communications, and when the governor left the state of Alaska back then, or the territory of Alaska back then, they really were temporarily absent and probably turned it over to the lieutenant governor.

Nobody has done that in recent years. Governor Knowles traveled extensively and never turned it over to the lieutenant governor. Governor Murkowski, prior to Governor Palin, also traveled. He spent several weeks in Taiwan, and he did not turn it over to the lieutenant governor. So it's not the modern practice.

VAN SUSTEREN: How's the -- how's the current governor, soon to be ex- governor, Sarah Palin, responding or reacting to -- how's she reacting to complaint number 20?

VAN FLEIN: Well, I think -- she sent out a message that said this is another -- another play right out of the playbook of the "thumpin'," attack the incumbent using the system, using their own ethics laws against them, their own -- hold them to the standards that they -- that they created. And it's transparent what's going on. So far, you know, these complaints are being filed and thrown out.

We had another one thrown out today, actually, a complaint that filed last week, after the governor announced that she was stepping down because of all this circus here. That complaint was just thrown out today.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this getting to her, though, or is it just like water off a duck's back?

VAN FLEIN: I think it's more like water off a duck's back, at this point. What really does get to hero is the waste of state resources. This is not a good expenditure for the state of Alaska because all of this costs money. They have to hire attorneys for the state of Alaska to look into it, investigators. Sometimes depositions are taken. And I've got to get involved and represent the governor. And this is the waste of resources that the governor was talking about that she really did not want to become an issue anymore in this state.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thomas, thank you. Good luck with number 20.

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