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Friday, July 31, 2009

Randy Evans: Palin's Trust Fund Does Not Violate "Any Law - Alaska, IRS, or Federal"

Ethics expert Randy Evans attested to the legality of Sarah Palin's legal defense fund, which he created, in an op-ed published yesterday in the Fayette County News. Attorney Evans disclosed that "the Alaska Fund Trust, was drafted and created to mirror the language used by the John Kerry Trust fund," and he says "the Alaska Perkins Coie attorney found that the trust fund document (which it had drafted for John Kerry) was in fact ILLEGAL. In Attorney Evans's opinion, "the only illegality in the matters surrounding the Alaska Fund Trust is the illegal leak of the 'CONFIDENTIAL REPORT" in direct violation of Alaska law."

Randy Evans also wrote an op-ed about Sarah Palin on The Political Vine during the 2008 election. In it he discussed the obstacles women have faced in politics and the criticisms that have been (and continue to be) leveled at Sarah Palin. A memorable quote from his article is this: "Barriers are built over time and they do not fall easily. Sometimes, it takes a political earthquake. Hurricane Hillary meet Earthquake Palin - it is a new day in American politics." A new day indeed!

A blogger at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that at breakfast at the state GOP convention in Savannah yesterday morning, the GOP chairman announced that Attorney Evans would no longer serve as legal counsel for the Georgia GOP Party. As Jim Galloway reports, "Evans was leaving her for Sarah Palin, she said." According to Galloway, Evans acknowledged that he is "now doing legal work for Palin" but declined to state in what capacity.

This led to a lot of speculation in the blogosphere about the role that Attorney Evans will play. However, Sean Cockerham at the Alaska Daily News, which habitually publishes slanted headlines and articles critical of Sarah Palin, reported that he had questioned Meg Stapleton, who said that Attorney Evans was one of several attorneys consulted to make certain that the Alaska Trust Fund met legal standards but that he was not working for Sarah Palin.

Celtic Diva, who runs the Blue Oasis blog and is a bitter opponent of Sarah Palin, is up in the air about Attorney Evans's involvement. She blogged, "Sarah Palin has hired the biggest gun YET" and called Evans “the equivalent of a legal bazooka.” It appears the anklebiters are afraid their little game is just about to be over.

Whatever his role will be, Governor Palin couldn't have asked for a more qualified attorney to be involved. Attorney Evans has a formidable resume and is a prolific writer and frequent speaker on ethics in government and politics. Evans has been recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America.” If he does indeed serve as legal counsel for Sarah Palin, as he has for many other political figures, including Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert, her cause, and ultimately, that of the country she loves, will be well-served.

The Palin trust fund: the rest of the story

Fayette County News

By Randy Evans

Having created The Alaska Fund Trust, I can tell you that the suggestions of illegality referenced in various Associated Press stories (which were then repeated on various cable news stories) are absolutely untrue. The truth of the matter is that the trust, which was created to help pay and defray the legal expenses associated with endless frivolous attacks against former Gov. Sarah Palin, was specifically patterned after a number of well recognized legal expense fund trusts of prior Presidential candidates as well as other high profile public servants - both Democratic and Republican.

As with the other trusts (which were subject to intense media scrutiny as well as scrutiny by well-financed political opponents and experienced lawyers of both parties), there is and was no impropriety in the creation or operation of the trust and any suggestion to the contrary is candidly absurd.

So, as Paul Harvey would have put it - here is the rest of the story.

The Alaska Fund Trust, was drafted and created to mirror the language used by the John Kerry Trust fund (named the "Fund for Truth and Honor"). This was by design (although the name "The Alaska Fund Trust" was not as clever). The idea was that if it was good enough for the leading Democratic candidate for President of the United States, then it should be good enough for the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

Here is what the media does not report. The John Kerry Trust Fund was drafted and created by a very well respected international law firm named Perkins Coie, a huge presence in Washington, D.C. Indeed, Perkins Coie is the lead counsel for the Democratic National Committee, President Obama, and many other national Democratic leaders. Its website touts its reach and expertise in political law matters on behalf of a virtual who's who of Democratic politics.

Given its expertise, when an outside firm was selected to spearhead the investigation of The Alaska Fund Trust, it was not surprising that Perkins Coie's Alaska office would be selected. Aside from the political implications of having President Obama's and the Democratic National Committee's law firm review a trust aimed at helping with the legal expenses associated with defending the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, the Perkins Coie firm seemed like a reasonable choice. (Of course, this is like saying, other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?)

Then came the surprise. On July 14, 2009, eleven (11) days after Palin announced that she would resign, the Alaska Perkins Coie attorney submitted his conclusions about the Alaska Fund Trust. In a "CONFIDENTIAL" report (that was promptly leaked to the media in violation of Alaska law), the Alaska Perkins Coie attorney found that the trust fund document (which it had drafted for John Kerry) was in fact ILLEGAL.

Make no mistake, the Alaska Fund Trust is the exact same structure and fund created for and used by President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State and former Presidential candidate (then Senator) Hillary Clinton, former Presidential candidate (then House Minority Leader) Richard Gephardt (also represented by Perkins Coie), Senator Ted Stephens, and many, many others - from both political parties. (At the time of its creation, the Alaska Fund Trust posted all of these trust fund documents on the Alaska Fund Trust website for easy comparison and validation.)

So how could President Obama's law firm conclude that the trust fund it drafted was illegal? Well, the gist of the "CONFIDENTIAL REPORT" is that any payment of legal fees incurred defending against frivolous complaints necessarily involved an illegal personal benefit. Of course, no explanation is given why such funds were not illegal for John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Richard Gephardt, Ted Stephens (from Alaska), and so on.

Significantly, NO ONE with any experience in legal expense trust funds (including the Perkins Coie attorneys experienced in this area) has ever contended (or even suggested) that the trust fund as set up (following the Perkins Coie model for legal expense fund trusts - indeed the gold standard for legal expense trust funds) violates any law - Alaska, IRS, or federal.

The fact is that, as evidenced by the detailed legal memorandum released by the trust, the numerous trust agreements (including those prepared by Perkins Coie itself), the legal writings on the subject, and the positions of every governmental agency to consider such trusts, the Alaska Fund Trust is not only legal, but it is the most restrictive and transparent trust of any well-known public servant in history.

In the end, the only illegality in the matters surrounding the Alaska Fund Trust is the illegal leak of the 'CONFIDENTIAL REPORT" in direct violation of Alaska law, not anything to do with the trust itself.

But then, no one reports on that. Welcome to the world of Sarah Palin.

(Evans is a columnist for this paper and a longtime Georgia attorney with strong ties to the Republican Party)


See also:

A new lawyer for Gov. Palin? (Updated with Palin saying it's not true) http://community.adn.com/alaska/node/141180

Atlantan Created Palin's Defense Fund http://www.11alive.com/news/national/story.aspx?storyid=132865&catid=166

From the state GOP convention: Sarah Palin’s new lawyer http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2009/05/16/from-the-state-gop-convention-sarah-palins-new-lawyer/

The Palin trust fund: the rest of the story http://www.fayettedailynews.com/article.php?id_news=4001

Randy Evans http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Randy_Evans

Randy Evans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Evans

Randy Evans: The man behind Palin's legal defense fund http://www.gop12.com/2009/07/randy-evans-man-behind-palins-legal.html

Report: Can Sarah Palin Defend Herself With Defense Fund? http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/palin_defense_fund/2009/07/22/238900.html

“Sarah Palin is a nice enough person, but…” http://politicalvine.com/politicalrumors/political-boxers/sarah-palin-is-a-nice-enough-person-but/