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Palin blasts ethics charges

The Alaska leader calls the complaints politically linked and costly to her. Most have been denied.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says her political enemies are abusing state law with a flurry of "frivolous" ethics complaints against her, putting her more than $500,000 in legal debt.

Those filing the grievances - there have been at least 18 cases so far - say it is their legal right to hold the Republican governor accountable for what they see as abuses of power.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

"Are Alaskans outraged, or at least tired of this yet - another frivolous ethics charge by a political blogger?" Palin asked in a statement.

Most of the complaints have been filed since August, when GOP presidential candidate John McCain picked Palin as his running mate. And most have been denied.

Palin's office has called the multiple dismissals "mounting evidence that accusations of wrongdoing by the governor lack merit and have been politically or personally motivated."

Even some of Palin's critics question the validity of some of the complaints, and her supporters began a weeklong Webathon to raise money for a legal-defense fund set up for the governor, ringing up $109,000 by yesterday.

But the number of filings may also reflect a broader awareness of ethics law in Alaska, where any citizen can send in any number of complaints.

"She said she was going to be open, transparent, and wanted people to hold her accountable," said Kim Chatman, an Eagle River resident, whose complaint against Palin is among the few pending. "I took her for her word."

Chatman's complaint alleges Palin is misusing the governor's office for personal gain by securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts through the Alaska Fund Trust, which was established by supporters in April to help Palin pay her legal bills.

All of the complaints have been brought by Alaskans, except for one filed by Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics alleging that the $150,000-plus designer wardrobe the Republican Party bought to outfit Palin in her national quest violated the Federal Election Campaign Act. That complaint was dismissed.

One complaint, in which the Alaska Personnel Board found no wrongdoing, concluded with the governor's agreeing to pay the state $10,000 for trips taken by her children - money that is due tomorrow.

Another complaint, filed by Democratic blogger Linda Kellen Biegel, said Palin wore a jacket that promoted the sponsor of her husband's snowmobile-racing team. That complaint, dismissed June 2, prompted Palin's statement about "frivolous" ethics charges.