Palin Attorney Warns Media on Defamation

Monday, 06 Jul 2009 02:17 PM

By Rick Pedraza

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Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, issued a four-page warning to mainstream news organizations over the weekend that he will sue on behalf of his client if “defamatory material” relating to her or her family finds its way from Internet blogs to print.

In the statement released Saturday, Van Flein noted there will be severe consequences to those organizations that print stories accusing the governor of embezzling funds in the construction of a sports arena in Wasilla, Alaska. The FBI today released a statement saying Palin is not under investigation, Politico reports.

“We are not investigating her," FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said Sunday. "Normally we don't confirm or deny those kinds of allegations out there, but by not doing so it just casts her in a very bad light. There is just no truth to those rumors out there in the blogosphere."

Palin's personal spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton, sent the statement from Van Flein attacking "false and defamatory allegations that the 'real' reasons for Governor Palin's resignation stem from an alleged criminal investigation pertaining to the construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Radio talk show host and blogger Shannyn Moore, who Van Flein called out personally for defaming Palin, followed that up by holding a press conference of her own in Anchorage yesterday to respond to Palin’s attorney’s claims.

Moore went on national television Friday, the day Palin said she would resign, and mentioned the rumor to MSNBC's David Shuster.

"There is a scandal rumor here that there is a criminal investigation into some activities and that's been rumored for about, I don't know, probably six weeks or two months," Moore told Shuster, noting Palin appeared nervous as she announced her resignation.

“I think she [Palin] was actually doing damage control for news that's coming up later," Moore said in explaining Palin’s abrupt resignation after serving just two-and-a-half years of a four-year term in office.

"I can say definitively I am aware of no criminal investigation whatsoever involving Sarah Palin. Zero," Van Flein said.

"The Palins used a combination of personal savings, equity from the sale of their private home, and conventional bank financing to build the house, like millions of American families," Van Flein wrote in reference to the Lake Lucille family home Palin’s husband Todd built as general contractor.

Van Fleini said Todd "is no stranger to construction. We will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation."

In response to the defamation allegation, Moore said: "I haven't defamed the governor; I reported on speculation and rumor in Alaska. It's not my rumor; it's been out there for 10 months and the First Amendment protects me. Even if I didn't say it's 'rumors and speculation,' I'm still protected –– I would just lose credibility, which I'm not willing to do."

Moore called Palin "a coward and a bully" and said she only pointed out that rumors existed about Palin’s finances but never claimed them to be fact.

"What kind of politician attacks an ordinary American on the Fourth of July for speaking her mind?” Moore said. “What's wrong with her? The first amendment was designed to protect people like me from people like her. Our American revolution got rid of kings. And it got rid of queens, as well. Am I annoyed? You betcha. Shannyn Moore will not be muzzled.”

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