Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hottie.jpgDavid Kernell, the now infamous 20-year-old hacker who got access into Sarah Palin’s private email account, has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Kernell is the son of the Democratic chairperson of Tennessee’s House Government Operations Committee.

The A.P. reports:

Kernell, an economics major at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a three-year term of supervised release.

What kind of emails is David Kernell sending around that made him think that a 44-year old woman would have anything newsworthy in her email account? She’s a grandmother. Did he really think that Palin would use email to send around scandalous photos?

Five years and $250,000 seems like the right price to pay for such rank stupidity.

Lawmaker’s son indicted in Palin e-mail hacking [A.P.]

Palin Vogue.JPGLate Friday night, we reported that Sarah Palin’s tax returns failed to report the per diem reimbursements she received as governor of Alaska. Over the weekend our commenters weighed in:

This is an easy income tax question. Any 1L/2L taking an income tax class could have answered this problem. Yes, the IRS usually relies on employer’s W2 forms. That’s for administrative convenience. For the most part, the IRS doesn’t want to audit every employee’s fringe benefits, which would be an incredible waste of tax dollars. That being said, the governor, with all her qualifications and knowledge regarding the U.S. system of governance, should have known that a per diem (worth how much over the last 18 months?) should be included in her tax return. If my employer reimbursed me for tens of thousands of dollars (for what expenses?), I would at least think about whether this was income.

But ATL weekend readers concluded that Palin will likely face no criminal liability:

The answer is probably that Palin is civilly responsible for underreporting income and underpaying taxes, but is not criminally responsible.

Criminal tax violations require “willfulness”. In the criminal tax arena, the Supreme Court has interpreted that as a pretty tough standard — approaching actual intent to violate a known obligation. See Cheek v. United States (1991). But a taxpayer is civilly liable for taxes whether or not she knew or had reason to know of the liability. (You’re still liable even if you relied in good faith on your accountant; even if you thought you didn’t have to pay; even if you made just a math error). And the IRS can require payment of back-taxes for whatever years are still within the statute of limitations, which almost certainly would include Palin’s limited time as governor.

So to the extent [Roger] Olsen [Palin's tax lawyer] is simply saying that Palin won’t be criminally prosecuted, he’s right. To the extent he’s saying that the IRS would believe Palin current on her obligations, he’s wrong — she’s going to have to file amended returns and send in a check.

Tax professors comment after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sarah Palin: The Case of the Unreported Income”

Palin Vogue.JPGEarlier today, Governor Sarah Palin released her tax returns. It turns out she makes a little more than most “hockey moms” but she’s no Joe Biden. TaxProf Blog breaks down how she stacks up to the other Article II contenders:

Gov. Palin’s charitable contributions do not approach the 10% tithe required by her evangelical church, but they are in line with the average charitable contribution of Americans with her income and they are over ten times greater (on a percentage basis) than Joe Biden’s miserly charitable contributions.

But Paul Caron was also right on the money about another issue: Palin’s failure to report her per diem reimbursement she received as governor of Alaska. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have mentioned these reimbursements before.

Palin tonight responded with authority to these allegations. The campaign released a letter (pdf) from D.C. tax attorney Roger M. Olsen:

Unless employees have reason to know that the W-2 is incorrect, the IRS expects employees to rely on the employer’s W-2 as prepared & filed with the IRS, as Governor Palin did. The income tax aspects of fringe benefits are complex and highly technical, and not subject to second-guessing by laymen. The State of Alaska is confident that its position is correct. Its employees were entitled to rely on that determination, So was Governor Palin.

Sounds like Olsen just called the liberal media “TTT.” Caron points out that Olsen is more qualified to speak about Palin’s tax returns than your average cable news anchor:

Mr. Olsen has a tax LL.M. from George Washington and is a former Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division under President Reagan.

Are there any uber-qualified attorneys that would like to support the Olsen-Palin position? Or stand opposed?

Gov. Palin Releases Law Firm Opinion Letter Justifying Her Not Reporting Per Diem Expenses as Income [TaxProf Blog]

Palin Releases Tax Returns and Financial Disclosure Forms [TaxProf Blog]

Roger Olsen Letter (pdf)


The Vice Presidential debate just ended, and there was a lot more “law” than one might have expected.

The best legal sparks flew over the Constitutional powers of the office of Vice President. Palin came out of the gate first when asked about her role as Vice President:

I’m thankful the Constitution would give a bit more authority to the Vice President if that Vice President chose to exert it in working with the Senate.

Biden said that he would be the “point person” for Obama’s legislative agenda with Congress.

But then both candidates were asked if they agreed with Dick Cheney’s contention that the Vice President was not solely governed under Article I. Palin said:

The Founding Fathers were very wise there in allowing to the Constitution much flexibility to the office of the Vice President … so I do agree with him.

Biden said:

Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American History … Article I defines the role of Vice President.

That sounds like a fairly large legal distinction.

Later, Biden returned to the Supreme Court in the context of things he has changed his mind on over the course of his career. When speaking about his criteria for confirming justices, Biden said:

It took me five years to realize that the ideology makes a huge difference … It matter what your judicial philosophy is and the American people deserve to know it.

He then went on to trumpet his objections to Robert Bork.

So, we know at least one VP candidate favors litmus tests. Palin acknowledged no moral issues which she has ever had to compromise on.

But one issue that will be really fun to some of the lawyers who have enough to work to do to still be on the job at this late hour, was Biden’s views on the bankruptcy courts. Biden wants to allow bankruptcy judges to not only re-adjust interest rates, “but also the principal that you owe.”

Palin said that she supported that as well. But she then went back to an unasked question about energy.

What did you guys think? We think that this VP power thing will be the dominant legal story coming out of tonight.

Earlier this week we reported on Sarah Palin’s apparent inability to name more than one important SCOTUS case.

Some commenters felt that we should reserve judgment on Palin’s judicial knowledge until we had “confirmation” about those opinions. Some people also questioned what her VP opponent, Joe Biden, might say under similar circumstances.

Well, now we have video:

Some key excerpts for those who cannot play the video after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Joe Biden And Sarah Palin Discuss Roe v. Wade”

Palin Vogue.JPGSarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric last week made me … happy. But the McCain-Palin campaign appears nonplussed with the post-interview spin.

Maybe the campaign feels pressured by the latest “global electoral college poll.”

Regardless, the campaign is set to “re-introduce” Sarah Palin. Palin, and McCain this time, sat down with Katie Couric again. (I guess Mel B was unavailable.) The new interview that will air sometime after the debate.

The McCain-Palin ticket is apparently pumped about how the new interview went. They want CBS to air the full interview, unedited. But the campaign is mad that CBS leaked a snippet of last week’s Couric interview that did not air:

Of concern to McCain’s campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin’s interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.

The Palin aide, after first noting how “infuriating” it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

I’ll pause for criticisms about the liberal media, northeastern elites, and my mother.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Many SCOTUS Cases Should a VP Know?”

Sarah Palin Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hottie.jpgTalis Colberg, Alaska’s Attorney General, has stepped into Sarah Palin’s troopergate issues. He is trying to quash subpoenas sent to state employees as part of the ongoing investigation.

But we’re not sure why. He had been running his own investigation, at Palin’s request, since July. Then Palin authorized Stephen Branchflower to run an independent investigation (you have to love the names on these Alaskans). Messing around with the state legislature’s investigation seems outside the purview of normal attorney general duties.

Talking Points Memo thinks that Colberg is acting for political reasons:

[I]t’s worth stressing a point that might be getting lost in the flurry of moves and counter-moves: Colberg is no independent player in this case. In fact, he’s a Palin appointee, who was personally involved in the effort to pressure Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to terminate Trooper Mike Wooten, and who has already led an investigation into the matter at Palin’s behest.

But does the mere fact that Colberg is a Palin appointee mean that he has turned into partisan prosecutor? In his letter arguing against the subpoenas Colberg wrote:

This is an untenable position for our clients because the governor has so strongly stated that the subpoenas issued by your committee are of questionable validity.

What is the proper role of state AG’s when the sled hits the slope? Clearly any move that Colberg makes will be interpreted as partisan by the opposition, but does that mean he should recuse himself? Or is it his responsibility to tangle with the legislature over this investigation?

The bottom line is that whatever happened between Palin and her family and her office, nobody will be satisfied until all the facts are brought to light in an impartial way. But is there anybody left to investigate that isn’t biased one way or the other?

Trooper-Gate’s Attorney-General Problem [TPM]

Arthur Culvahouse, chairman of O’Melveny & Myers, was in charge of vetting Sarah Palin and has been taking some heat.

But Culvahouse has more to worry about than the National Enquirer. Culvahouse is locked in a high-stakes political battle to keep his chairmanship at O’Melveny. O’Melveny’s policy committee, which recommends the chairperson subject to ratification by the full partnership, failed to select a clear winner over the past few weeks.

So now the sharks are circling….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “McCain Veep Vetter Culvahouse Tries to Hang On”

chad johnson name change Palin kids.jpgCincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson legally changed his name to “Ocho Cinco,” his preferred nickname since 2006.
Johnson Ocho Cinco wears the number 85 for football related activities, making the new name multicultural yet entirely redundant.
As we’ve previously reported, sometimes changing your name to or away from something stupid can be difficult. But luckily for Mr. Cinco, Florida’s name changing laws are straightforward, provided you have $40.
These might be the kind of laws that Governor Palin’s kids would want to look into. Here are Todd Palin’s thoughts on naming conventions, via People Magazine:

Sarah’s parents were coaches and the whole family was involved in track and I was an athlete in high school, so with our first-born, I was, like, ‘Track!’ Bristol is named after Bristol Bay. That’s where I grew up, that’s where we commercial fish. Willow is a community there in Alaska. And then Piper, you know, there’s just not too many Pipers out there and it’s a cool name. And Trig is a Norse name for “strength.”

As soon as my parents are too addled to care, I’m changing my name to Max Power.
Bengals wide receiver changes last name to Ocho Cinco [ESPN.com]
Earlier: What’s in a Name? Quite a Lot, Rules New Zealand Judge

Sarah Palin Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hottie.jpgAccording to the New York Times, John McCain has tapped Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Appeal to disaffected Clinton voters? Trying to lock up the Mike Gravel fan base?
Update: Although Governor Palin is not a lawyer, there have already been several legal issues mentioned with regard to her candidacy. Just last month, her own state legislature opened an investigation into allegations that she tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from his state trooper job
Law professor Ann Althouse has already gone on record with a furry opinion about Palin’s credentials.
Without a professional legal background to pontificate on (compare Joe Biden), we here at ATL will continue to scour our sources to bring you the latest on Palin’s positions about the things that matter to lawyers, big and small. Anyone know her views on SCOTUS nominations?
McCain Chooses Palin as Running Mate [New York Times]
Alaska’s Palin Faces Probe [Wall Street Journal]

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