This one is another active complaint almost a month old, backed up by emails and other hard evidence - this one has even more legs than the troopergate thing.
Ex-state employee files ethics complaint against Palin's office
By KYLE HOPKINS
Published: August 7th, 2008 12:02 AM
Last Modified: August 7th, 2008 11:37 AM
A former state employee and political activist filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Sarah Palin and her staff Wednesday. The charge: The governor's office used its influence to get a Palin supporter a state job.
"Executive branch employee shouldn't be getting involved in the recruitment process unless it's based on merit," said Andree McLeod, who wrote the complaint based on a series of e-mails between members of Palin's team.
Palin said the state fixed a "glitch" that prevented a qualified candidate from moving through the hiring process. In this case a longtime surveyor couldn't apply for a job because of outdated job requirements, she said.
"There were no favors done for anybody."
The complaint accuses Palin, her acting chief of staff and others of breaking executive ethics branch and hiring rules. It centers on the hiring of surveyor Tom Lamal, who once co-hosted a Palin fundraiser, for a state right-of-way agent job in Fairbanks.
Some state jobs -- like commissioners -- are appointed by the governor. Most other positions aren't supposed to have anything to do with politics.
The e-mails include a Feb. 3 note from Boards and Commissions Director Frank Bailey, a member of Palin's team during her campaign, to acting chief of staff Mike Nizich.
"Looks like Tom Lamal finally got on in DOT Fairbanks," Bailey writes.
Two minutes later, the complaint says, Bailey e-mailed the governor, along with the director of the governor's Anchorage office and an unknown recipient.
"This was a long battle but (Deputy Commissioner of Administration Kevin Brooks) pushed it through the road blocks to get Tom Lamal hired into a classified (position) in FAI with DOT," Bailey writes.
"Great! Long time coming," Nizich replies, according to the complaint.
Palin says the e-mails are taken out of context by someone who was trying to get a job within the administration. McLeod said the exchange shows signs of political pressure leading to Lamal's hire.
Brooks, who was named in the complaint too, said nothing sinister was at work.
Sometime last summer, Brooks said, a hiring manager from the Department of Transportation in Fairbanks called the state saying he was having trouble with recruitment for right-of-way agents.
Then in the fall, Brooks said, he got a call from Bailey.
"He mentioned his name. Tom Lamal. He said this guy's trying to get on with DOT and they're telling him he doesn't meet the minimum qualifications, can you tell me what's going," Brooks said.
He said Bailey didn't ask him to get Lamal a job.
On Dec. 26, the state changed the minimum requirements for the job, and Lamal was hired about two months later, Brooks said.
Asked if the job requirements would have been changed if Bailey hadn't called, Brooks said yes -- the state would have made the change anyway because the requirements hadn't been changed in more than 25 years.
"I think that process was under way prior to any call from Frank Bailey."
McLeod said she worked for the state off and on for decades, most recently as Alaska Workforce Investment Board manager. She was appointed to the job by former Gov. Frank Murkowski, she said.
Palin said McLeod has asked her for an appointment too. As head of the Alaska Public Offices Commission -- the state campaign finance watchdog agency, for example.
"This is the same Andree McLeod that follows us around at public events and camps herself out in our waiting area and hounds us for a job, asking us if there's a way she can go around Workplace Alaska and not have to go through the system to get a job with this administration," Palin said.
To which McLeod said: "The messenger always gets clobbered. I'm not interested in getting into a catfight -- the issue at hand is this complaint."
The e-mails McLeod used in her complaint are among four banker boxes full of papers she got through a public records request for e-mails between members of the governor's staff.