Sarah Palin And The Case Of The $500,000 Legal Bill

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Sarah Palin's new book, and came away with several scooplets, including the following:

"... [S]he says that most of her legal bills were generated defending what she called frivolous ethics complaints, but she reveals that about one-tenth of the $500,000 was a bill she received to pay for the McCain campaign vetting her for the VP nod.

She said when she asked the McCain campaign if it would help her financially, she was told McCain's camp would have paid all the bills if he'd won; since he lost, the vetting legal bills were her responsibility."

Without having read the book, and without knowing precisely what the AP is summarizing, it's hard to know what this charge entails. (Note: the AP originally reported that Palin was given a bill for $500,000.)

It's not legal for general election matching funds to pay for pre-emptive legal defense; the McCain campaign did not believe it was legal for GELAC funds -- a separate account that paid for fundraising complaince -- to pay for the investigations either. But vetting is a poor word to choose. The McCain campaign footed the bill for Art Culvahouse's investigation of Palin before she was elected. Palin was urged by campaign lawyers to set up a legal defense fund to pay for the investigations and ethics complaints that had nothing to do with her presidential bid. 

"I can confirm that she was not billed for any vetting costs by the campaign," said Trevor Potter, the campaign's general counsel. "I do not know if she was billed by her own lawyer for his assistance to her in the vetting process, but from the excerpt that has been read to me by the AP, it sounds as if that is what she is describing."

The dispute speaks to tensions between the McCain campaign and Palin's personal lawyer, Thomas Van Flein. A bridge of trust betwixt the two was never built.

Both Van Flein and Palin's media lawyer, Robert Barnett, declined to comment.