The huge ethics scandal on the backburner

THE HUGE ETHICS SCANDAL ON THE BACKBURNER…. It’s vaguely surreal that in the midst of a competitive presidential campaign, one of the candidates for national office is embroiled in a major ethics scandal, and the political world is largely ignoring it.

Two weeks ago, an independent investigation launched by the Alaskan legislature into Sarah Palin’s abuse-of-power scandal wrapped up on Friday with a fairly devastating report — Palin violated the public trust, violated state ethics laws, and lied about it. Soon after, Palin, driven either out of ignorance or illiteracy, said the report had cleared her of “any hint of any kind of unethical activity,” which is the opposite of reality.

The investigation into Palin’s scandal is not yet over.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin finished giving three hours of depositions Friday night to the state Personnel Board, which is looking into whether she unfairly fired Alaska’s public safety director this summer, her attorney told CNN.

Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, gave her deposition in St. Louis…. Her husband, Todd Palin, also was supposed to testify separately Friday but it was unclear if he had done so.

Personnel Board investigator Timothy Petumenos took the governor’s testimony.

Now, the Petumenos probe should be more favorable to Palin. It’s run, after all, by Alaska’s personnel board, which is made up of members who answer to the governor, which makes it far from independent. My suspicion is that Republicans support this inquiry because they want one more report — in this case, a less objective one — to clear Palin of any wrongdoing. The new talking point would be, “One investigation cleared Palin, one didn’t, so let’s just forget the whole thing.”

This may yet be tricky, however. Petumenos is a Democrat who contributed to Palin’s 2006 opponent for governor, Tony Knowles. Complicating matters slightly, the Anchorage Daily News reported that the personnel board’s investigation of Palin has been “broadened” to include “other ethics complaints against the governor.”

But stepping back, it’s amazing this scandal is barely generating a whisper in political circles. A candidate for national office has been found to have violated ethics laws, recently, in a major abuse-of-power scandal. The Obama campaign isn’t pressing the issue, reporters seem to find this irrelevant, and most voters probably have no idea that the scandal is ongoing. As far as I can tell, John McCain hasn’t said a word about any of this, and reporters haven’t even asked for his perspective on his running mate’s

It’s odd. If Joe Biden were recently found to have abused the powers of his office and lied about it, and was still under investigation as Election Day neared, I have a hunch it’d be a bigger deal.