Friday, October 31, 2008
Palin might not be permitted to cash in on fame
By HILLEL ITALIE and ANNE SUTTON, Associated Press Writers
NEW YORK – If her bid for vice president fails, Gov. Sarah Palin could almost surely use her sudden fame to obtain a lucrative book deal or high fees on the lecture circuit, or even get her own TV talk show. But Alaska law might not allow it.
A provision of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act restricts outside employment. It says: "The head of a principal executive department of the state may not accept employment for compensation outside the agency that the executive head serves."
Senior Assistant Attorney General David Jones said the section likely applies to the governor but it's not clear what constitutes "employment."
"Clearly, the intent of the statute is to make it clear these are full-time jobs. If you are a commissioner, for example, you can't be working in the private sector. But does that mean you can't go out and give a speech now and then for an honorarium? I don't know. I don't know that we have interpreted it for that purpose in the past," Jones said.
Palin, 44, was little known beyond Alaska before John McCain chose her in August to be his running mate on the Republican ticket. Although she has been widely criticized as too inexperienced to handle the presidency, Palin consistently draws large crowds and is considered an attractive and dynamic presence, receiving high praise for her appearance Oct. 19 on "Saturday Night Live."
"It's not unimaginable that Ms. Palin, who once worked as a television sports reporter, could someday follow (Ronald) Reagan's path in reverse and cash in her political renown to become a show-business celebrity," New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley wrote.
"One thing everybody can agree on is that Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified — to someday host her own television show."
Palin was elected governor in 2006. Her term is scheduled to run through 2010.
Unlike McCain, or the Democratic candidates — Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joseph Biden — Palin has never written a book. But interest in her has been so high that her nomination made an instant best seller out of an obscure biography, Kaylene Johnson's "Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down," published last spring by Epicenter Press, Inc., based in Kenmore, Wash.
Publishers agree that a Palin memoir would bring her a seven-figure advance, should she be permitted to accept it.
"If she is allowed to do whatever she wants, all kinds of things are possible," says Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs, which released the best seller "What Happened," by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
"What you have with her is a situation in which she's a real celebrity, and she's new enough for people to want to read about her."
Anne Sutton contributed to this story from Juneau, Alaska.