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Palin’s defense fund was illegal

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Thousands of donors who contributed to a legal defense fund for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will get their money back after an investigator said Thursday the fund was illegal because it was misleadingly described on a website.

State Personnel Board investigator Timothy Petumenos said the Alaska Fund Trust inappropriately used the word “official” on its website, wrongly implying that it was endorsed by Palin in her role as governor.

But Petumenos also found that Palin – the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee – acted in good faith and relied on a team of attorneys to make sure the fund was lawful and complied with the Alaska Executive Branch Act.

Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said the trust brought in almost $390,000 before Palin stepped down as governor July 26, 2009. More than $33,000 has since been donated, but Van Flein said that will go toward administrative and other expenses.

“She supports this process 100 percent, and I think she agreed to this resolution because it was the right thing to do,” Van Flein said.

In announcing her resignation last July, Palin cited the toll of the ethics probes as one of the reasons. She has said she racked up at least $500,000 in legal fees.